Last weekend, Amanda and I had the pleasure of attending the Mapleton Wizard of Oz Festival in Illinois, about 3 hours drive from our house.
Now last year, I attended what was their 2nd year doing this and about 500 people showed up. This year, about 5000 showed up and it was quite an adventure, both for us and the folks who run the event.
Like last year, it started with a song, a gathering of old familiar freinds and a balloon release.
It should be noted that the temperatures for this day were into the upper 90's with high humidity, so it was quite a challenge dealing with the heat and meeting with people, talking about our books. I give my wife much credit as she endured the heat far better than I expected her to. Fortunately, the festival volunteers furnished us with water when we asked for it.
There were, of course, many people in costume, sharing their love for the Wizard of Oz, though all were related to characters from the MGM 1939 movie, The Wizard of Oz.
Loads of Dorothy's running about, nearly as many Glinda's, but very few witches. I'll wager the guy in the Winged Monkey outfit was regretting wearing a wool outfit in the heat. The replica of Dorothy's House was unique and I have never seen someone do that one before. Once again, all movie characters. I wish more people would dress up as Scraps, the Patchwork Girl, or Polychrome, Daughter of the Great Rainbow, or even Princess Ozma.
The big draw of the festival was the Oz characters (Glinda, Dorothy, Scarecrow, Tinman and Cowardly Lion) hanging out along the Yellow Brick Road and entertaining the kids. The one issue there was that not enough people could get through quickly enough, causing long lines that irritated numerous people.
I know how hard the festival people work at making this festival flow smoothly and they are already looking at ways to insure a better experience next year. After all, no one, and I mean NO ONE, expected 5000 people to attend this gathering of Oz. Such is the power of Facebook and social media in general.
It was nice to see that Steven's Puppets were part of the festivities. He was there last year and it was a huge success. I hope they bring him back again and again as the children absolutely LOVE the live performance of the puppets Wizard of Oz.
Overall, I considered the festival to be a huge success for the two of us and we certainly hope to return next year with our newest books, Even More Tails of Oz and Nomes of Oz, which we are currently working on.