Wizard of Oz Festival returns for third year The Wicked Witch will soon be putting a spell on downtown Ionia, transforming it into the Emerald City, for the third annual Wizard of Oz Festival. This year the festival will run Friday, June 17 and Saturday, June 18. The festival will feature activities like the Race to Oz 5k, Auntie Em’s Pick Contest, several look-alike contests, soap box derby, live bands and demonstrations. During the festival, two new Oz characters will be added to the lineup. Festival goers can meet and take pictures with Dorothy, Glenda, the Wicked Witch, Scarecrow, Tin Man, Cowardly Lion, Professor Marvel and two other characters to be announced at the event. Other new events this year include a Corvette car show on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., a “Wizard of Oz” art workshop, a “Party Like It’s 1939” celebration and the Ionia Historical Society will put up a display about what Ionia looked like in 1939. The workshop will be held both Friday and Saturday for two hours and is $20 per person. Guests will be able to work with illustrator Vincent Myrand, who has created art for several Oz books and Disney, too. Also during the weekend the “Wizard of Oz” will be shown on the big screen at the Ionia Theatre. Friday showing is at 2:30 p.m. and Saturday’s is 4:30 p.m. On Both both days the show will only be 25 cents a ticket because that is the price of the movie when it was released in 1939. There will also be a collector that has the largest collection of autographed munchkin photos in the world, and those will be for sale. Mary Ellen St. Aubin, who was married to Parnell St. Aubin, will also be making a return appearance this year. Her husband was the smallest munchkin on set during “Wizard of Oz.” She will be available for photos and is turning 97 years old this year.
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