Monday, September 12, 2011

Chesterton Must Be Over the Rainbow!

Visitors will feel they've been whisked away by tornado and dropped into a magical land this weekend when the streets of Chesterton come alive with the sights and sounds of Oz. This year the Chesterton Wizard of Oz Festival is commemorating 30 years of fandom and frivolity. It's hard to imagine what started as a 3 hour affair has grown into a weekend celebration that welcomes 40,000+.

The fest offers many activities sure to appeal to all manner of Oz enthusiasts. Parties, silent auction, parade, there's even a showing of The Wizard of Oz at the 49er Drive In Theatre. Food, craft, and Oz vendors line the main streets. Representatives promoting the new animated feature Dorothy of Oz will be taking up half a street! Dorothy of Oz is based on the book by Roger Baum great grandson of Wonderful Wizard of Oz author L. Frank Baum. Roger will be in attendance this year. Jersey Jack, the makers of the limited edition Wizard of Oz pinball game will also be on hand.


In addition to Roger Baum, many other Oz dignitaries will be in attendance. The beloved Munchkins and Munchkins -By-Marriage Karl Slover, Margaret Pellegrini, Myrna Swensen, and Mary Ellen St. Aubin are back to reminisce with fans. Michael Siewert will be displaying select pieces from his amazing Judy Garland: Dressing of a Legend costume collection. Artists Rick Ewigleben and Joe Shipbaugh will debut their beautiful coloring book inspired by Michael's collection. Wizard of Oz/Judy Garland historian extraordinaire John Fricke will have his glorious new book Judy: A Legendary Film Career. Caren Marsh-Doll, Judy Garland's stand in during filming of The Wizard of Oz will have her fascinating autobiographies about her personal life and her experiences during Hollywood's hey day. Robert Baum great grandson of L. Frank Baum will be participating in various festival events. Robert was instrumental during the filming of The Dreamer of Oz and much of his personal collection can be seen in the movie. Jean Nelson, the founder of the Yellow Brick Road Shop and festival will be out and about so be sure to congratulate her on one of the longest running Oz events in the country!! 

One of the most anticipated festival events is, without a doubt, the Collector's Exchange and Auction. This year the auction will take place at Chesterton Middle School and they'll have a fabulous array of vintage and new memorabilia. There's donations from our favorite manufacturers including newcomers Funko, Schylling, and Cafe Press. Fantasy artist Jasmine Becket-Griffith sent a beautiful framed canvas. Trendsetters donated at limited edition trio film cell piece with a backlight. Longtime collectors Chuck Chicanowicz and Michael D. Manzini have graciously donated from their troves of Wizard of Oz and Judy Garland collectibles. A good number of the auction items are one of a kinds and hand made. Shawn Ryan's donation is a replica Munchkin Coroner costume that was worn by Meinhardt Raabe. Barb Huddleson made shadow boxes with autographed Munchkin photos. A very special 30th anniversary quilt made by Deb Dwyer will be on display throughout the festival and at the Auction/Exchange. Raffle tickets will be sold for a drawing held during closing ceremonies. Barb and Deb and many of the festival volunteers are from The Everything Oz Club, a delightful haven for fans of anything and everything Oz. Year after year they donate their talents and time to make the festival a pleasant experience for everyone. If you can't check them out during the fest, then please look them up online after. Vendors from all over the country will be at the auction peddling their Oz wares including first time festival attendee Fred Trust of Fred specializes in hard to find and vintage Oz books.


Amidst all the fun and games, please take a moment if you can, to remember those less fortunate. This year the festival has teamed up with Toys For Tots. Toys For Tots does an incredible job bringing joy to underprivileged children. This is a wonderful opportunity to spread the magic of Oz, but any new toy will be accepted.  

Please support the donors and sponsors not just one weekend, but all year long. Their generosity helps keep the Oz fest running year after year.

Congratulations Team Chesterton!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Here's to another 30 years!!!! (at least!)

Please enlarge photos for detail   - Michael Siewert