As usual, we start at the beginning, though this time, the beginning is about 60 miles north of our starting point as we pass by the Pinwheel Fields, made famous in Family of Oz, the third volume of the Royal Magician of Oz trilogy, written by yours truly... me!
Once we arrived in the little Michigan town of Ionia, we settled in for the night and the following morning found us in downtown Ionia with visions of Oz dancing through our heads.
Of course, Ionia is dominated by the Red Brick Road, which can mean only one thing... this town is in the dominion of Quadling Country of Oz, and thus ruled by Glinda: Good Witch of the South.
Hmm... seems that Oz is filled with Glinda's, Dorothy's and Toto's, oh my!
And of course, what Land of Oz would be complete without a few Wicked Witches thrown in for good measure?
Once we arrived in downtown, we found our author location and was very pleased to be located in front of the local cinema, which I'm told has been around since before the 1939 MGM Wizard of Oz movie was released.
During our set-up, I ran across an old projector in the back of the theater which seems to have inspired my mind to imagine the possibilities. I'm told this old projector was in use during 1939 and actually projected The Wizard of Oz onto the silver screen. Much like when I saw an old cobbler's leather cutting tool and it inspired me to create Cobbler the Dog as the "Unwilling Villain" in Family of Oz, or the trains that passed through Chesterton, Indiana every hour on the hour and inspired me to write about them in The Ozian Adventure of Pickleless & Blue, the old projector has inspired me to create a new character for our newest Oz adventure, Nomes of Oz. How it will impact the story, who can say?
Once we were set-up, it was a full day of meeting fans of Oz, selling and signing quite a few books and having ourselves an overall great time!
We had attended this festival for the first time last year and were very pleased with the reception we had received and the kindness of everyone involved with the festival. This year was even more successful, both in attendance, sales and the overall impact this festival had on us personally.
We were especially pleased to see that Mary St. Ellen Aubin was the featured guest. She is a Munchkin-by-Marriage and one of the most gregarious ambassadors of Oz any festival could hope for.
Owing to the fact that only one Muchkin from the Wizard of Oz movie is still among us, that being Jerry Marin (the Lollipop Munchkin from the Lollipop Guild), and he no longer attends Oz festivals, Mary St. Ellen Aubin does her part on behalf of Oz admirably.
The highlight of the festival, besides the costumed characters who made their rounds throughout the festival throughout the day,
was a screening of the Wizard of Oz movie at the local cinema. Best of all, the ticket price was the same as it was in 1939... 25 cents!
Needless to say, the house was sold out!
One very unique thing the theater did in cahoots (now there's a word you don't hear much anymore) with the Oz folks was to have the costumed characters appear and wander about through the theater during their appearance in the movie. I've never seen that done before and I thought it was a brilliant idea... and most magical in its effect on the audience. The kids, and the adults, were enraptured by the whole experience and The Wizard of Oz on the big screen is something everyone should see at least once in their lifetime.
One odd feature of the festival, which I liked, was the inclusion of a showing of travel trailers, campers and the like.
I was also pleased to see that my co-author, Ron Baxley, Jr., was attending this great festival for the first time. We co-authored a trilogy of books which blend Oz and Wonderland together in a most wonderful way and was recently picked up by Maple Creek Press and offered as a combined, single volume trilogy known as Of Cabbages, Kings, Queens, Flying Pigs, and Dismal Thing. By his own account, our book was very well received by all in attendance.
Overall, Amanda and I had a wonderful time and we look forward to attending next year's festival. We are especially grateful to Linda Curtis and all the fine volunteers who made this year's Wizard of Oz festival so much fun. Without them, no Oz festival could really get off the ground, even if a twister should come by!