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OZtoberFest showcases new additions to Oz brand

WAMEGO — Though finding your way home may involve a long journey accompanied by an oddball team of a little black dog, a tin man, a scarecrow and a cowardly lion, Wamego visitors will have no trouble spotting and traversing the famous yellow brick road in downtown.

The Wamego Area Chamber of Commerce held a ceremony Saturday during OZtoberFest to commemorate the new sign and entrance marking the start of the road that branches off from Lincoln Avenue and leads to Wamego City Park.

“This was really a community effort to put together, but it’s another great Oz asset that we have here in Wamego,” said Daryn Soldan, chamber executive director. “I know from just this morning that it’s a great photo opportunity for a lot of folks.”

The entrance features a golden filigree — intricate metalwork — that matches the signwork on the Oz Museum just across the street.

Kara Holle, chamber events and tourism coordinator, said Kansas City Sign Company had created both the new sign and museum facade. Riley Construction installed the $17,800 donor-funded project last week.

The project’s completion also happened to coincide with the 80th anniversary of the release of the 1939 film starring Judy Garland. Holle said the city has embraced its Oz identity and projects such as this one lent itself to that mission.

“(The theme) brings 40,000 people to town every year so it gives Wamego a name,” she said. “It gives us a brand. It gives something fun for people to enjoy.”

Sybil Linville of Fort Riley said Saturday’s trip was her first time experiencing OZtoberFest with her family. Because they are originally from Texas, she said they wanted to experience as much of Kansas as they could.

“We’re scoping out the food trucks, but we’re definitely coming back to the yellow brick road and taking our picture there,” Linville said. “You know, while in Kansas, do Kansas things.”

The Oz Museum also unveiled the newest addition to its collection of Oz memorabilia, replicas and artifacts — an original 101/2-foot spear used by the Winkie guards in the 1939 film.

Adrian Greenburg, the spear’s designer, also worked on the other costumes featured in the movie, as well as several other MGM-backed films.

The family-friendly fun didn’t stop there. Festival goers also had the chance to check out children’s shows, listen to presentations from Oz historians, enter costume costumes, and enjoy live dancing and music.

Hy-Vee will no longer be open 24 hours

Hy-Vee will no longer be open 24 hours a day beginning Monday.

The grocery store will switch its hours to 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. seven days a week.

“Our sales just didn’t warrant being open that late,” store director Matt Fast said. “We can look at our sales numbers by the hour, and it just made sense (to close earlier).”

Within the last two years, both Dillons grocery stores and Hy-Vee were all open 24 hours. The east side Dillons was the first to close earlier with the West Loop Dillons making the adjustment about six months ago. Now, Walmart is the only option for someone desperate for a pork chop at 3 a.m.

“It’s just something grocers have been taking a look at, and not just here,” said Fast, who’s been at the Manhattan store for two-and-a-half years and has also worked at Hy-Vees in Nebraska and Iowa.

Fast said the change won’t affect staffing much, as night stockers and other crew will still work a 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. shift.

“They’ll just lock the doors at 11,” he said.

Individual stores determine their own operating hours, Fast said.

Nickolas Oatley / Staff photo by Nickolas Oatley  

Deacon Wayne Talbot meets Hayley Smith, left, Courtney Smith and their dog, Drax, after a pet blessing on Friday at St. Thomas More Catholic Church.

City to discuss combining smoking, e-cigarette rules

Manhattan city commissioners Tuesday will discuss combining smoking and e-cigarette rules into one ordinance.

The work session starts at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall. There will be no votes at this meeting.

Commissioners will contemplate banning smoking and e-cigarette use at city parks and trails. They also will discuss whether to allow smoking and vaping at tobacco and e-cigarette businesses.

The Flint Hills Wellness Coalition, a group of Manhattan and Riley County organizations advocating for healthy living, prompted the idea of combining the two ordinances into one as well as defining the language in the ordinance.

Officials said the potential combined ordinance means the city would have to add signs around the community to notify people where they can’t smoke or vape in specific areas or businesses.

After the commission provides feedback about the topic Tuesday, city administrators plan to bring an ordinance for a vote at a future commission meeting.

The Convention and Visitor’s Bureau also will present its third quarter report during the meeting.

Bureau employees will discuss hotel occupancy rates through August, social media data and summer events.