The Duneland Business Initiative Group (DBIG) will no longer sponsor the
Wizard of Oz Festival.
And unless a new organization agrees to fill the void—or unless a new one is
formed to fill the void—the 2012 edition of Oz Fest will have been
Machelle Blount, who originally spearheaded DBIG’s sponsorship of the Oz
Fest four years ago—returning it to Downtown Chesterton from where Lakeshore
Festival Events had displaced it in the move to the Porter County Expo
Center—told the Chesterton Tribune today that “it was time for it to
“Someday the day was going to come,” she said. “And that day came.”
Blount cited a couple of reasons for the decision. For one thing, attendance
has dwindled over time. In the first year of DBIG’s sponsorship, in 2009,
excitement over the return of Oz to the Downtown translated into some pretty
big numbers, Blount said. But the festival took a hit in the following year,
2010, after a rainy Sunday, and at this last edition, in 2012, there “just
didn’t seem to be as many folks as in previous years.”
Blount noted that in 2012 DBIG tried to dovetail the festival with some new
Oz motion pictures in the pipeline by screening trailers for the flicks. “We
thought it would be a plus,” she said, a neat way to spin the event. “But
there wasn’t a whole lot of interest in that,” she said.
But Blount cited another big reason: the sheer time involved in organizing
it. “Any event this large is going to be very difficult to get off the
ground without paying people,” she said. “There’s enough work for two
full-time positions over the course of an entire year. I did try to pay
people but you can’t pay a whole heck of a lot.”
“There’s always going to be a birthday, an anniversary, a release, some
rationale to keep the festival going one more year,” Blount said. But in the
end DBIG concluded that this wasn’t reason enough to keep Oz afloat. “It was
something our group was not willing to continue year after year.”
Although DBIG’s premier event has always been the Wizard of Oz Festival, the
group has been involved in numerous other successes: Bark in the Park, the
Taste of Duneland, the Family 4th Fest.
And Blount is hopeful that “some other organization will pick up Oz” going
forward. “I don’t want it to die with me,” she said.
Blount promised to help any other organization in whatever way she can to
make a transition, would be happy to share her vendor and contact lists,
would be delighted to offer all possible resources. “My recommendation: make
it a paid position,” she added.
An Oz Fest committee member will soon be contacting all of the Oz
celebrities with the news.
Blount did offer her special thanks to the Town of Chesterton, which has
consistently provided logistical and manpower support to the festival.
“The Town of Chesterton has been absolutely supportive,” she said. “The
cooperation I’ve had with the town. The partnership I’ve had with the town.
Absolutely. We have always had a blast. Everybody has been simply fantastic.
I want to sit down with all the department heads and say thank you.”
Click Your Heels
Meanwhile, it didn’t take long for Oz fans to respond to the news. At 10:45
a.m. today 97 people had already e-signed a petition entitled “Save the
Chesterton Wizard of Oz Festival.”