GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Two West Michigan women created a unique festival to bring together a community — or rather, a coven.
“We have a crystal vendor, we have books, we have brooms,” said Erica Franke, one of the organizers.
Katrina Peshka and Franke are the minds behind the Witches of West Michigan Festival that drew a crowd on South Division Sunday.
They’ve been by each other’s sides for twenty years. Their friendship actually began in a chat room — surprisingly, not about witches.
“It was about Star Wars, actually," laughed Franke.
The festival celebrates the halfway point between the winter solstice and the spring equinox, meaning West Michigan is inching closer to longer days.
“This is absolutely something that anybody can celebrate," said Peshka.
The duo created a Facebook page, called Witches of West Michigan, a year and a half ago to bring together like-minded individuals.
“I thought it was gonna be like me and 80 other people sort of just sharing memes all day," said Franke.
Today, the group has nearly 3,000 members. This helped them realize there was a demand for witch-related activities in West Michigan, and with Peshka’s day job being event planning, they knew they could create something remarkable.
They say Sunday’s festival may be the biggest turnout they’ve ever seen.
They’re still in awe they’ve found their place here in West Michigan and have given so many others theirs, too.
"So many people don't realize that there are other witches in West Michigan. Over and over, we hear, 'I can't believe you're here, I thought I was all alone,'" said Peshka.
“Being able to open the doors of this place and be like, 'you're not alone. Look at all of these people who are just like you,' that's just so important to us.”
Through it all, they’re just happy to be doing it all with a friend by their side.
“I can't imagine anyone else I would do it with," smiled Franke.
►Make it easy to keep up to date with more stories like this. Download the 13 ON YOUR SIDE app now.