"Wizard of Oz" Fans Follow Yellow Brick Road to Mapleton

Published 08/16 2014 09:21PM

Updated 08/16 2014 10:32PM

MAPLETON - Follow, the yellow brick toad...To Mapleton?

"This is very much a diamond in the rough." said Hollis Park District Director Jim Robertson. "This is the Wizard of Oz Fest 2014. It has grown every year. This is our third year, and we're very excited about the outcome. It's a wonderful thing to have a garden for the characters to actually go through and a real yellow brick road."

This is the third year for the Wizard of Oz Festival, or Oz Fest. It is becoming a tradition for fans of the book, and the movie, click their heels and end up in Mapleton each Summer.

"This is a huge crowd," said Mike Haldeman of Washington. "More vendors. it got a lot bigger this year."

Mark and Ashley Haldeman brought their daughter, McKenzie, to the festival. They've done so every year.

"McKenzie here is a huge fan," Haldeman said. "We showed it o her when she was about 3 years old, and she's been hooked on it ever since. When she first watched it, she watched it, probably, three times in a row that day."

Robertson added, "We have people here from Chicago, from Kentucky, and from Tennessee. it makes us just feel wonderful that these people come all this way and see our little show."

And the Park District believes, with the amount of people that keep coming, their little show becomes an annual tradition for fans of all ages. Especially those who were born generations after the film made it to the big screen.

Robertson said, "Seeing these little kids come dressed in character is just the most amazing thing, and it motivates all of us to start next year."

Gardner Deb Ekvall added, "They start singing the songs and enjoying themselves and laughing. It's just the most wonderful thing."

And they hope this little river town stays home to such a magical festival. After all, there's no place like home.

The Hollis Park District holds the festival on the anniversary of the film's debut to theaters.

This is the film's 75th anniversary.

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