Present: Ease on Down the Road
2019 brought the 80th Anniversary of MGM's classic film, which, in turn, brought about a renewed interest for Oz characters across the country. Storybook Land, a theme park boasting it's own recreation of the Land of Oz, in Aberdeen, South Dakota, brought the characters out for their annual Storybook Festival. This marked the first appearance of live Oz characters at the park in over a decade. This sudden surge in interest rejuvenated the energy surrounding the company and inspired the administrative team to implement a five-year improvement plan including the creation of new costumes and props, as well as the integration more complex makeup.
Harvest Tyme Farm Park instituted their own Wizard of Oz Weekend in 2019, making it the first annual festival to join The Spirit of Oz lineup in nearly five years. A Chesterton Oz Festival "reunion" in the form of a second Wizard of Oz Days event was scheduled for the summer of 2020. Unfortunately, the cast hit a Yellow Brick Road Block in March of 2020: The Covid-19 Pandemic. This resulted in the cancellation of all but two appearances for the year, both of which were greatly reduced in scale with limited character interactions. This also effectively halted the improvement plan, which was put on indefinite postponement after only being able to refurbish only half of the cast's costumes.
However, if any good came about from pandemic, it was ingenuity. The Spirit of Oz partnered with longtime ally The International Wizard of Oz Club to offer a free virtual Oz Convention. The characters have continued to make regular appearances at the Club's monthly virtual parties, which are open to the public and entirely free. The characters also began offering custom videos and virtual visits through their new CAMEOZ service.
As of 2021, we remain optimistic that things will improve and that we will once again be able to bring the magic of Oz to in-person event in the near future. The Chesterton Oz reunion has been reschedule for May of this year, and we hope that we will finally have our chance to reunite with the old Oz Festival family.
It's been a long journey down the Yellow Brick Road these last 16 years but we're not done yet! We invite you to join us as we continue our journey somewhere over the rainbow!