The Royal Magician of Oz Trilogy is a 3 volume tale of magic and wonder that recalls the cherished values of friendship, loyalty and courage. This timeless tale of Oz reminds us of the value of overcoming our deepest fears and conquering the challenges that might otherwise defeat us.

Volume One; Magician of Oz, Volume Two; Shadow Demon of Oz and Volume Three; Family of Oz are now available for your reading enjoyment, as well as The Ozian Adventure of Pickleless & Blu.

The Emerald Slippers of Oz
, featuring an Introduction by Roger S. Baum; great grandson of L. Frank Baum, as well as Tails of Oz are also
available for your reading enjoyment.

The newest adventure in Oz, entitled: Nomes of Oz is now available and fast becoming a best-seller in the Land of Oz.

All are available in both paperback and Kindle.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Day of the Wiener Dogs!!!

And what a day it was!!!!

Last weekend, I attended the 7th Annual West Virginia Hot Dog festival as a guest and, needless to say, I had a 'Wiener-riffic" time!!!!!!

I was very pleased to have brought along my youngest youngling, Turner Clay Wallace as he had never been to Huntington before and this was his chance to see both the birthplace of his dad, grandfather and great grandfather (whom he is named for), as well as a chance to see the old man (that's me) in action.

It all started at 2am as we left the Land of the Hoosiers and made our way east to the tri-state region of Huntington, West Virginia. By 8am, we had sighted the old iron bridge which crosses over into Huntington.

Moments later, we found ourselves in downtown Huntington and looking for wiener dogs! My boy seemed amazed that I would remember how to get around Huntington, especially since I've only been there a handful of times since 1968. Well frankly, it was easy as Huntington has a very simplistic layout. Still though, it was nice to be back home!

It certainly didn't take much effort to locate all the fun as it was all in Pullman Square, which is now a blocked-off, walking downtown area. It was very lovely to see and I am pleased Huntington did this.

Fortunately, Empire Books, which is where I was scheduled to appear was right on the square and easily accessible.

We walked around Pullman Square and saw a most welcome sight!

Who knew they had a portable wiener stand??? Needless to say, we instantly leaped at the chance to have a Stewart's Original Hot Dog and a mug of Root Beer (no ice as real men don't put ice in their root beer!). Walking around the festival grounds, we saw all manner of things, both expected and not so.

There was Barney Fife's Mayberry RFD car...

Loads of vendors and people... I remember this old water tower that has been around longer than me. I always thought about that old show Petticoat Junction whenever we drove by it way back when...

There were, of course, bouncy things...

And lots of these old clocks throughout downtown. I remember these well and I was pleased to see them survive from my childhood.

Finally, I set up for the day of book signings and such. Being in Empire Books had its advantages as it was air conditioned inside and VERY comfortable. The one disadvantage was less foot traffic, although I'm pleased to see that the trend towards declining sales and a lack of support for independent bookstores didn't seem to affect this fine establishment.Overall, sales were fair, though that wasn't the true reason for my attending this wonderful festival. For me, it was a chance to return home and give back to a community that did well by me in my youth.

Believe or not, I'm actually quite happy in this photo... I just don't look it! I gotta work on that.

When the festivities got going, they really got going. Attendance seemed to be outstanding, despite the stifling temperatures that topped out at over 95 degrees by midday. 

After opening ceremonies and such, along came a variety of contests, most of which I didn't see because I stayed indoors during the heat. There were dog costumes contests, hot dog eating contests, root beer chugging contests, and bun stacking contests.

... and of course, there were wiener dogs...

... and pairs of wiener dogs.... (notice the common theme of tutus here?)

and just when you thought you were out of wiener dogs, there were even more dogs of other varieties!!!

About this time, I made it to the Huntington Public Library for a planned event promoting Youth Literacy in which I did some selected readings from L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1899), as well as my own books, Magician of Oz, Shadow Demon of Oz and Family of Oz. I also spoke of how my parents taught me to read using this very library and the Oz books they had at the time.

Given that it was a Saturday with a great festival going on only 2 blocks away, I was pleased with attendance and felt I had made a fine connection with the kids who were there. In particular was a young lady of about 12 who was writing her own book called "The Celtic Knot." I hope she stays true to course and publishes it. It sounded wonderful... and of course, Huntington has a long Scottish history, as does my family.

Returning to the festival, we were just in time for the premier event, the Wiener Dog Races, which they called "The Dachshund Dash."

 On Your Mark...

Get Set...


There were 6 heats of 10 dogs, with a final race deciding the Wiener... er, I mean winner!!!

Afterwards, there was, of course, the Grand Parade, featuring Stewie, the Stewart's Original Hot Dog mascot, the Geico Gecko (I have no clue why he was there) and a clown (once again, not a clue, but I'm glad my son Halley wasn't there as he has a mortal terror of clowns).

... and once again, the dogs were in full force, despite the heat, which was quite impressive!!!

Naturally, my son couldn't resist a photo with Stewie... After all, how often do you get to stand next to a guy in a wiener suit?

Having worn the Billy Bob suit myself when I worked at Showbiz Pizza long ago, I know all too well the agonies that poor soul inside there is going through. I only hope they paid him well!!!

Finally, we met with John Mandt., Jr., the 4th generation owner of Stewart's Original Hot Dogs. I wanted to thank him personally, not only for the invite to the festivities, but also for the wonderful memories those magnificent chili dog samiches from my youth. They were so good, I had to write a chapter in my book, Family of Oz, about them!!!

After packing up at about 3 o'clock, Turner and I headed over to Cabell Huntington Hospital for a visit with the Pediatric Care Unit and a chance to repay an old debt of Karma. Then, we made our way over to the 5th Avenue Stewart's Original Hot Dog stand of my childhood for some more chili dog samiches and root beer. I wound up taking a dozen home, along with a gallon of root beer.

I decided to make one final stop by the old valley past the hills where I grew up and show my son our ancestral home. On the way, he was amazed by the red brick roads of Huntington and begged me to stop while he took a picture. Kids.... Go figure? 
At least now he begins to understand my fascination with Glinda the Good Witch; Ruler of the South Quadling Country, whose Red Brick Palace is found by following the road of red brick. 
Remember the 1939 MGM movie, The Wizard of Oz? When Dorothy starts out on the Yellow Brick Road? Did you ever notice that there is also a Red Brick Road? Where did you think that led to???

Finally, we found my old home, which I'm pleased to say was occupied by a family with 2 kids. The last time I visited many years ago, it was empty and I was sad.

Finally, we made for the Land of the Hoosiers and home. The journey back was madness on many levels and I had to be in Indianapolis the next day for the Brickyard 400. It was quite a weekend.

Overall, I found the 7th Annual West Virginia Hot Dog Festival to be quite the fun time and I was very pleased to be a part of it. I was also glad my son had come along, as well as the fact that I was able to give back a little to the library which had helped me learn to read and to the hospital which had done so much for me and helped make me the man I am today.

I'm especially grateful to John Mandt, Jr. for his understanding of my need to write about his wieners (heh heh... sorry about that. I couldn't help myself) and to Kym York-Blake of Clear Channel Communications in Huntington for her willingness to find me a place in the festival. I loved Empire Books and, as an author, I was most gratifide to see my hometown embracing the independent book stores, which are fast becoming a vanishing breed.

Soon, the Chesterton Wizard of Oz Festival in Chesterton, Indiana will be in bloom and the Royal Liaison to Princess Ozma will once more be among the citizens of Oz.

James C. Wallace II
Royal Liaison to Princess Ozma

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