Chesterton Tribune

There's no place like home: Wizard of Oz Festival has been destroyed by move to Valpo

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Voice of the People

I was one of several people who was totally against the Wizard of Oz Festival moving to Valpo. I even swore that I would never attend it in its new location. That was until my sister (from out of town) begged me to go. I was reluctant, but was also curious. How bad could it be? Maybe I was just hurt that the festival left my charming little town. It was a beautiful day, so I gave in. After paying $4 for my children and I to enter, I walked in. Within seconds, I had only confirmed what I suspected all along... the Festival had been destroyed.

The atmosphere was non existent. It reminded me of one of those old western ghost towns out in the middle of nowhere. Where were all the little Dorothys? Where were the little Cowardly Lions, Tinmen, Scarecrows and Wicked Witches? Where were the people? As I watched a few napkins and paper plates roll down the middle of the isles, it reminded me of tumbleweeds rolling out in the middle of nowhere. The beautiful old buildings of downtown Chesterton had been replaced by big white buildings with no character.

When I walked into the first building, it was dark. My eyes had not adjusted from the outdoors to the indoors. Walking through the gloomy building, I didn't even have the urge to stop at each booth. It was dark and depressing. Most of the stuff inside was commercial. As I walked out of the building, I though for sure I would find all the great craft booths the Oz Festival was known for.

Walking past food vendors, I kept looking for the craft booths but they were almost nonexistent. When I stopped for a bite to eat, I asked the vendor if he had ever been set up at the festival when it was in Chesterton. He said yes, but then shook his head. He was also very disappointed at how the festival was going. He said he wouldn't be back next year. He also said, neither would some of the other vendors. After only being there 30 minutes, me, my sister and our children left the festival with our hearts broken. It was no longer a charming little festival, it was a cold, sad place.

When will the festival committee swallow their pride and just accept the fact that they messed up? Please move the festival back to Chesterton before it no longer exists. You took something fantastic and destroyed it. You can fix it by just moving it back to Chesterton. If you wait even one more year, the festival won't exist anymore. You won't have the attendance and you won't have the vendors.

Let me remind you why people came to the festival when it was in Chesterton. ATMOSPHERE! The cool breeze rustling the leaves on the trees, the bandstand - surrounded by friendly people who enjoyed watching the entertainment in a cozy hometown setting, the charming downtown shops with their decorated windows, the parade marching down the streets of an adorable little town.

This is where the festival started, and this is where it needs to stay. Hurry, before it's too late!

Carrie Davis

Porter, Indiana

 

Posted 9/18/2007