Wizard of Oz FestivalA year ago, on June 13, 2014, a huge crowd gathered outside The Judy Garland Museum in hopes of breaking the Guinness World Record. They achieved their goal – to put it mildly.

A grand total of 1,093 Dorothys, Scarecrows, Tin Woodmen, Lions, Munchkins, Witches, and Wizards turned out that day, tripling the previous tally ever assembled of people dressed as characters from the 1939 classic film, The Wizard of Oz. Their enthusiasm insured Grand Rapids its place on the Guinness World Records roster.

This year, the town’s Wizard of Oz Festival (Wednesday, June 10 – Saturday, June 13, 2015) will once again host a number of exciting programs for all ages.

Hamilton MeserveFor Oz fans, the most exciting event is the keynote address by Hamilton Meserve, son of legendary actress Margaret Hamilton, whose portrayal of The Wicked Witch of the West has thrilled audiences around the globe. In 1979, Ms. Hamilton was the first celebrity from “Oz” to visit Grand Rapids. Meserve’s memories of his mother will be shared in “Oz, the Witch and Mom” on Saturday, June 13th at 8:00 p.m. Tickets are $20.00, with a Wine and Cheese Reception before the talk. Meserve’s recollections about his parent during the making of the film and in the years thereafter are sure to fascinate.

Children’s events abound all weekend. On Friday, June 12th from 1:30 p.m. – 2:00 p.m., Oz Historian John Fricke will give a talk for kids, “Fun Facts About Oz!” From 2:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m., Dorothy’s Farm and Zoo Animals will be presented in the garden. Both activities are free.

At 5:30 p.m., BBQ meals will be available for $12.00 each, courtesy of the Sawmill Restaurant. A Wizard of Oz Costume Contest for groups of two or more follows at 7:30, and (at dusk) there’ll be a free Jumbo Screen outdoor showing of “The Wizard of Oz.”

Emerald City FestSaturday, June 13th, the Emerald City Fest will take place in downtown Grand Rapids at the Old Central School House from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. The activities include “Horse of a Different Color” buggy rides, face painting, glitter tattoos, Glinda’s Bubbles and more. At 5:00 p.m., a Judy Garland Museum Singing Contest (for ages 6 thru 18) will be held at the Museum. Audience member tickets are $2.00 each; applications for contestants are available at the museum. Winners receive scholarship money and cash prizes.

Oz and Garland fans will revel in presentations from Thursday through Saturday. These include a jazz performance by pianist Josh Gallagher, “Memories of the Judy I Knew” by Joan Beck Coulson, and “Judy in Concert” by John Fricke. Fricke also presents two video talks on Oz: “The Oz that Almost WOZ” and “Down the Yellow Brick Road.” Brent Phillips presents, “Judy and Chuck,” with information from his new book, “Charles Walters: The Director Who Made Hollywood Dance.” Author Amanda Michelle Moon will be available to sign her two books, “Stealing the Ruby Slippers” and “Finding the Ruby Slippers.”

For overnight lodging check out Visit Grand Rapids website.  There are many Grand Rapids Hotels/Motels, B&B’s, and Resorts to choose from.  On the Visit Grand Rapids website you will also find lots of things to do, places to dine, arts and culture, and education and history that you will find in the Grand Rapids, Minnesota area.  Grand Rapids is a community that offers small town charm nestled in the northwoods.  As soon as you arrive, you will feel a sense of balance where community meets Minnesota’s nature.  From all vantage points in Grand Rapids you will experience welcoming shops, and grand hospitality.

For further information and tickets, please visit: the new Judy Garland Museum website or call: 218-327- 9276 or   1-800-664-JUDY.

Click on the below video link to watch the Gems of Itasca: Judy Garland Edition: