I head off to see the wizard every year, but unfortunately (or maybe fortunately) I’m not trapped in a twister and landing on the yellow brick road. Instead, my family and I hop in the car and drive to the Porter County Fairgrounds for the Wizard of Oz Festival. This family-friendly event will have you clicking your ruby red slippers in no time.
The festival is a three-day event, Sept. 14-16, that’s about as close as you can come to actually visiting the Land of Oz. Dorothy fanatics will love the parade, breakfast with the munchkins, lookalike contests, puppet shows and autographs by some of the original munchkins. If you’re into collectibles, there’s all kinds of Oz memorabilia, from dolls and toys to blankets and pillows.
You’ll truly feel like you’ve landed in Oz when you see all the people in costume at the fest—from visitors to real munchkins—even the dogs wear costumes. Some of the remaining living munchkins march in the parade. I was actually able to meet the munchkin who played the coroner, Meinhardt Raabe. The great grandson of L. Frank Baum, the author of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, also rides in the parade as well as Judy Garland’s stand-in during the filming of the movie, Caren Marsk.
For 24 years this fest was held in downtown Chesterton, Ind., but it recently moved to the Porter County Fairgrounds, 215 E. Division Road in Valparaiso, which is about 10 minutes away. Tickets cost $2, $1 for students and free for kids 5 and under.
You can go to www.wizardofozfestival.org or call (219) 983-1691 for more information. If you call to get an event guide, you can get a buy one, get one free ticket coupon.