[The glowingly crafted and appropriately colored façade of The OZ Museum is the pride of Wamego and one of the centers of Ozian action for their upcoming, annual celebration.]
Entertainment! Exhibitions! Contests! Authors! Artists! Performances! Presentations! Music! Dancing! Food!
That amalgamation can mean only one thing: OZtoberFest 2018 is fast-approaching! And while the festival’s customary – and almost endless -- roster of activities can be summarized as joy and jubilation for the entire family, those who follow this blog will be particularly interested in the OZ-specific aspects of the first weekend of October in Wamego, KS.
It’s a personal privilege and pleasure for me to return as master of ceremonies and lecturer for the happy events at The OZ Museum and Columbian Theatre on Saturday, October 6th. I’ll be presenting (by request!) a career retrospective of Judy Garland – legendary “Dorothy” of the classic 1939 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer motion picture, THE WIZARD OF OZ – and I’ll also be on hand to introduce and/or showcase other members of OZtoberFest’s special-guest line-up.
Of exceptional note and interest this year are two preeminent, contemporary Oz authors, whose new-for-2018 output is designed to thrill book lovers of all ages. Even more importantly, their works are geared to entice and enthrall the young reading audience that L. Frank Baum himself captured and enraptured with the initial Oz stories of more than a century ago. GABRIEL GALE presents the second volume of his AGES OF OZ trilogy, A DARK DESCENT, which continues the saga of young Glinda the Good, as the teenage sorceress comes to discover her powers, her capacity for friendship, and the fact that the fate of Oz rests in her leadership. PAUL MILES SCHNEIDER debuts his eagerly-awaited third book in the “SILVER SHOES” series, THE MAGIC BELT, which brings young Kansas teen Donald Gardner and his companions into new drama and heady excitement in their ongoing discoveries of the fact that Oz is, indeed, “a really truly live place” – and reachable (and often dangerous) in twenty-first century America.
[Cover art for 2018’s dynamic and dazzling new adventures sent in and around Oz. THE MAGIC BELT continues the tale of its young, vigorous, and present-day Kansas boy hero. A DARK DESCENT offers the further adventures of the teenage Glinda the Good Witch in the early days of Oz.]
Both Schneider and Gale have been acclaimed for their imaginations, creative story-telling capabilities, and gratifying devotion to (and knowledge of) the real Oz. Paul Miles’ first title in this series, SILVER SHOES, was declared a 2010 “Notable Book Award” winner by the Kansas Center for the Book and the State Library of Kansas: meanwhile, The International Wizard of Oz Club itself extolled the manner in which Schneider “effortlessly weaves a tale that the best authors of today would be proud of having written.” In recent weeks, the SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL “highly recommended” Gabriel’s A DARK DESCENT, as did parents who purchased the tome for their families: “absolutely riveting,” “the kids loved [it] as I did,” and “before my eyes, I see [the book] transforming the way my eight-year-old son thinks.”
Gabriel and Paul Miles will be offering special OZtoberFest presentations about their work on Saturday, October 6th; the location and time of their appearances – as well as mine about Judy Garland – will be announced closer to the date. Additionally, JOHNPAUL CAFIERO returns to discuss a very specific kind of Ozian “magic” in his lecture, “The Spiritual Journey: Reflections from THE WIZARD OF OZ.” It’s the extraordinary collection of Friar Johnpaul’s family that makes up a great percentage of material showcased at The OZ Museum; he himself is a pastoral associate and preacher at Holy Family Parish in Inverness and formerly the assistant vocation director for his Franciscan order. He now serves as chaplain for the Illinois State Police. Also on hand for OZtoberFest: JANE ALBRIGHT, president of The International Wizard of Oz Club, Inc. (ozclub.org).
All of this – PLUS a very special OZZY PUPPET SHOW in the Little Theatre at THE OZ Museum. Details and performance times are forthcoming, but this brief entertainment is especially designed for children and will be offered several times on Saturday, October 6th.
[A SPECIAL NOTE TO ALL THOSE WHO PLAN TO ATTEND OZTOBERFEST THIS YEAR: The speakers’ presentations, the puppet shows, and the meet-and-greet autograph sessions with the above-listed 2018 celebrities will take place ONLY ON SATURDAY, OCTOBER 6TH. THERE WILL BE NO SUNDAY APPEARANCES this year. Museum hours on Saturday are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; the Museum itself will be open for visitors on Sunday, October 7th from 12 noon until 5 p.m.]
Admission (wrist bands) to The OZ Museum and to all Museum-sponsored activities are: $10 adults, $8 children ($8 military adults, $6 military children). This includes unlimited time and access for Saturday, October 6th, to the Museum, as well as admittance to all the speaker events at the Museum and at the nearby Columbian Theatre. (Prices are subject to change.)
[In THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF OZ – newly available this year in paperback -- I’ve been privileged to tell the history of the entire Oz phenomenon. It’s an extraordinary saga, detailed in 168 pages and the full-color photographs of some five hundred items from the Willard Carroll/Tom Wilhite Oz Collection: the greatest in the world. From the very first Oz book in 1900 – and up through WICKED, OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL, and TIN MAN etc. in the twenty-first century -- it’s all here in THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF OZ.]
A special evening treat also has been planned for OZtoberFest 2018: On both Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m., the Columbian Theatre will proudly present THE JUDY GARLAND SONGBOOK. This happy mélange of Great Popular Songs will reprise many of those introduced or re-popularized by Judy on film, stage, TV, and recordings, as performed by native Kansan Mandy Kerridge and accompanied by a live band. Ms. Kerridge has performed in major musical theater roles in venues everywhere from Atlantic City to Reno, Nashville, and Los Angeles. She’s been heard in national radio jingles; and -- via diverse cruise liners --- as an entertainer in more than sixty-five different countries. Tickets for THE JUDY GARLAND SONGBOOK are limited and available NOW! They can be accessed at The Columbian Theatre box office or online at: http://columbiantheatre.tix.com
[Judy Garland sang the greatest songs of the first seventy years of the twentieth century – and Mandy Kerridge and her accompanists will be celebrating some of those melodies and lyrics on October 5th and 6th at 7:30 p.m. at The Columbian Theatre.
While the sights and sounds of Oz will be heard indoors at The OZ Museum and Columbian Theatre, countless more activities will also take place outdoors and up and down Lincoln – the town’s main thoroughfare – on Saturday, October 6th from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. All of this comes courtesy The Wamego Chamber of Commerce -- and you can visit Oztoberfest.com for detailed information – but suffice it here to say that downtown Wamego will offer numerous exhilarating activities, thanks to the Chamber’s capacity to imaginatively create and produce! Among their appropriately astonishing and magical offerings: the OZ Costume Contest, the Toto “look-a-like” contest, the Classic Car Show, Professor Marvel's Backyard BBQ Cook-Off, the Wizard's Beer & Wine Garden, Munchkinland, Uncle Henry's Farmers’ Market, Auntie Em's Boutique, the OZ Market, the Tin Man's Garage, and many more OZsome activities. There’ll also be a street dance on Saturday from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
To declare, at this point, that OZtoberFest is once again and always “fun for the whole family” must be one of history’s most redundant proclamations! You’ll just have to come and see for yourselves – and enjoy to-the-max the all-ages extravaganza for which Wamego has become known!
Here’s to a happy reunion for many – and a hearty welcome to all who will trek the Yellow Brick Road for the first time . . . to the magic of OZtoberFest!
P.S. Of course – and speaking alphabetically! – Jane Albright, JP Cafiero, John Fricke, Gabriel Gale, and Paul Miles Schneider will be available for conversation and autographs from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. on Saturday, October 6th. And copies of -- also alphabetically! -- the AGES OF OZ books (including the new A DARK DESCENT), the SILVER SHOES books (including the new THE MAGIC BELT), and THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ will be on sale, to be signed by their authors. For any reading here who aren’t able to attend OZtoberFest, but who would like autographed books, please order them through THE OZ MUSEUM prior to October 6th:
AGES OF OZ/A FIERY FRIENDSHIP and A DARK DESCENT: https://ozmuseum.com/products/age-of-oz-by-gabriel-gale
THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF OZ: https://ozmuseum.com/products/the-wonderful-wizard-of-oz
To learn more about and order THE MAGIC BELT: https://www.paulmilesschneider.com/books/the-magic-belt/
[There’s also additional information about AGES OF OZ and THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF OZ at these sites:
For any questions:
The OZ Museum: 866 458-TOTO (8686)
The Columbian Theatre: 800 899-1893
The Wamego Chamber of Commerce: 785 456-7849
Article by John Fricke