The 2013 Organizing Committee of OZtoberFest today announced its lineup of special guests for the Wamego festival September 27 to 29. Heading the package are two great-grandsons of L. Frank Baum, and 13 other full-length timeless Oz fantasies for children.
This is the Ninth Annual OZtoberFest in the Kansas town which also boasts an Oz Museum.
Baum great-grandson Roger Baum has continued his great-grandfather’s storytelling tradition in over a dozen Oz volumes of his own across the last 25 years. During OZtoberFest weekend, he will be signing his children’s books, including the new Enigma of Oz, as well as Dorothy of Oz. The latter has been adapted for an animated film — Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return — with release scheduled for May 2014. Leading roles have been voiced by Kelsey Grammer, Martin Short and Bernadette Peters, with Glee’s Lea Michele as Dorothy.
Also present at the OZtoberFest literary table throughout the weekend will be native Kansan Paul Miles Schneider. Now a resident of Lawrence. Schneider is the author of Silver Shoes, an award-winning novel set in western Kansas and Oz. Its sequel, The Powder of Life, has been similarly acclaimed.
This year’s festival also will host Baum’s great-grandson, Robert Baum. He and his wife Clare are known for their portrayals of L. Frank and his wife, Maud. In the course of their presentation, Robert and Clare reveal the inspirations for the famous characters of Oz and the manner in which the early Oz books were written. The Baums will arrive in Kansas early in the week of OZtoberFest for a series of performances at schools in the Manhattan-Wamego area. They will then reprise their act throughout the festival weekend in the Oz Museum’s Little Theatre.
Returning emcee for OZtoberFest is author/historian John Fricke. The recipient of two television Emmy Awards as co-producer of Judy Garland documentaries and a Grammy Award nominee as a journalist, Fricke has written seven books about Garland or Oz; his latest, The Wonderful World of Oz (Down East Books) will be published on October 1st. Fricke will also host Friday evening’s “Welcome Party” concert at The Columbian Theatre, Over the Rainbow: Betti O Sings the Music of Harold Arlen. During the weekend, he’ll appear at the Oz Museum to present video “tours” about the Oz The Great and Powerful “Yellow Brick Carpet” premiere and press junket last winter; the new 3D Wizard of Oz DVD set for release Oct. 1st; and his newest book. A highlight of Fricke’s talks will be a video interview done in March by cherished MGM “Munchkin,” Margaret Pellegrini.
Also attending this year’s festival is JohnPaul Cafiero, a Franciscan Friar whose family owns the thousands of Oz artifacts — books, toys, dolls, games, and etc. — exhibited at the Oz Museum. Cafiero follows in the tradition of his forbearers, who instilled in him the love for Frank Baum’s creations and all its offshoots.
Austin Hibbs, manager of the Oz Museum, summarized Wamego’s anticipatory delight for the 2013 OZtoberFest by smiling, “With all the Oz activity this year, from Oz the Great and Powerful, to the re-release of the 75th anniversary edition of MGM’s Wizard of Oz, to the expectations for Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return, this promises to be an Oz-centric festival like no other.”