The 1931 IBM convention held in Columbus was so successful, Robert Nelson and Syl Reilly decided to put on another similar convention themselves. Nelson would coined the term, "Magi-Fest" and it would run for another 80 years (81 conventions) until they announced its decision in March of 2012 to retire event.
After a falling out between Nelson and Reilly, Reilly ran the convention but Nelson could still sometimes be seen socializing and networking in the lobby of the hotel. Nelson would also have a large group over at his place the following the convention.
For years, it was the first magic convention of the calender year. It regularly drew over 800 attendees and final year still attend by over 500 magicians.
There were several factors in the decision to retire the event including:
- Long-time, loyal attendees who are aging out faster than younger registrants are coming in
- The downturn in the U.S. economy over the past few years
- Financial pressure on the convention due to increasing costs and insurance requirements, while keeping registration, food, and lodging costs affordable to attendees
The staff recognized in 2012 were Tony Dolciato, Randal Fath, Mike Heniken, Steven Kline, the Krech kids, Glenn Mackie, Red Penley, and Mike Sanderson.