‘Wonderful World of Oz’ kicks off free summer at the Figge Willard Carroll can’t sit through showings of “The Wizard of Oz” anymore. He first watched it at age 4. It was 1959, and he remembers seeing the black-and-white movie while riding one of those toy rocking horses with metal springs in his living room. A few years later, his mother bought him Oz-themed hand puppets. That purchase rocketed a lifelong hunt for memorabilia related to Dorothy and Co. — he now has what he says is the largest Oz collection in existence. He has over 100,000 Oz-related items to his name, featuring movie posters, paintings, toys, costumes, dishware, an original flying monkey and others props from the props from MGM’s 1939 movie starring Judy Garland, a copy of the first edition of the 1900 book, plus items from productions like “Wicked” and “The Wiz.” “There’s no item in the Oz world that exists that I’m not aware of,” Carroll, who is also a Hollywood movie and TV producer, said.
Wizard of Oz Festival Underway in Grand Rapids The Wizard of Oz Festival kicked off in Grand Rapids Thursday with a high tea. The town expects to see thousands over the three-day celebration. “People fly in from all over the world,” John Kelsch, the executive director of the Judy Garland Museum, said. There are always artifacts, characters and history to learn about at the museum, and Kelsch hopes this weekend shows a few more people what she was all about. “The community’s very proud that one of the world’s greatest stars from the most beloved movie in all the world was from Grand Rapids,” Kelsch said. There are events all evening Thursday and all day Friday and Saturday. “Every year is a little bit different. We’ve had the Munchkins here when they were still alive, we’ve had celebrities … all the old stars,” Kelsch said. This year, Saturday night marks the Minnesota premiere of “The Slippers,” a documentary about the missing fourth pair of original ruby slippers. A schedule of events can be found on the Judy Garland Museum website.