The Duneland Business Initiative Group has begun planning this year’s 29th
annual Wizard of Oz Festival, which will once again be held in and around
Thomas Centennial Park on Sept. 17-19.
DBIG is seeking people to assist with the festival. “The areas of
opportunity to get involved are endless,” said DBIG President and festival
executive director Machelle Blount. “Last year, we had a few people doing a
lot of work. Our hope this year is to have a well rounded group to handle
individual tasks, which will make it easy on each committee.”
Committees include planning the parade, contests, Brunch with the Munchkins,
Oz of Cakes, Oz Exchange, Kidzone, Friday gala, Oz Idol, souvenir tent,
welcome stations, and vendor booths as well as coordinating sponsorships,
entertainment, parking, trash, and phone coverage.
DBIG also hopes to get the schools involved this year. Robert Baum, the
great-grandson of Oz author L. Frank Baum, and his wife Clare, have offered
to meet with the schools for read-a-thons and learning sessions the week of
the festival. Both Robert and Clare are teachers and the learning sessions
give them the chance to incorporate Oz with teaching. Other ideas for the
schools include window decorating, backdrop paintings, production of Oz
skits, and marching bands in the parade.
DBIG is also seeking local non-profits to run game booths at the festival’s
Kidzone to gain money for their organizations. Last year’s Kidzone included
young blues guitarist Chris Pabon and the teen rock band State Park. Other
performers included puppeteers, clowns, acrobats, gymnasts, karate, and Oz
Kids from the Performing Arts Center in Chicago.
“Being a part of the planning is hard work, but we had a lot of fun too.
There were so many friendships created during last year’s festival. It is
also about the joy of being a part of something that our area really
embraces. Oz is good for our economy, our businesses, and our community,”
The Oz Committee will hold its first meeting at 7 p.m. March 10 at
Westchester Public Library’s Thomas branch, 200 West Indiana. For more
information, call 926-6283 or email