Oz, the National Convention, will be held Aug. 3-6, 2017, in and around Chicago. The International Wizard of Oz Club (IWOC) last met in the greater Chicago area in 2007. “Chicago is where The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was inspired, written, published, and first brought to the stage,” says Carrie Hedges, IWOC president. “As a Chicagoan myself, I look forward to a convention that celebrates the many connections between Oz and this remarkable city.”
Kick off the weekend with a Thursday night party in the suburban home of Oz collector Walter Krueger. Our Friday morning program will begin with a visit to Dorothy’s farm and the Nome King’s mines in Homer Glen before settling into the Joliet Area Historical Museum for an afternoon of animated Oz with Rankin Bass historian Rick Goldschmidt. Enjoy a spectacular fashion show featuring the always-stylish Dorothy Gale through the years and meet special guest Emma Ridley, Princess Ozma from Disney’s Return to Oz (1985). End the night on the museum’s rooftop stage with live Oz music. Our Saturday program in Orland Park offers presentations for diverse interests – Oz publishing history, “Jewels in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” W.W. Denslow’s illustrations of the 1893 Columbian Exposition, and taped interviews with the cast of NBC’s Emerald City among them – before an evening program that welcomes the cast of Those Thrilling Days of Yesteryear as they recreate the famous 1950 Lux Radio Theatre broadcast of MGM’s The Wizard of Oz. Winners of annual contests for Oz fiction, research, and art, as well as the recipient of the Club’s highest honor, The L. Frank Baum Memorial Award, also will be announced.
Wizard of Oz auction, fundraising
Oz collectors will not want to miss our Saturday afternoon auction. “Oz Club members donate material to our fundraising auction every year,” explains IWOC member and auctioneer Bill Thompson. “This year I anticipate 200 Oz items will be auctioned, including rare books, vintage toys, and paper ephemera. Most of us are collectors, making the auction as important to the buyers as it is to our fundraising efforts.”
The International Wizard of Oz Club is a non-profit organization founded in 1957. Membership is open to all ages with a half-price rate for children. “This is our 60th year,” adds Hedges. “We were founded by a 13-year-old boy who started our publication The Baum Bugle and organized our first convention in 1961. Our conventions are funded through registration fees and generous donors. The auction income supports our general fund and helps keep our dues at just $30.”
Sunday festival, city options
This year the Midwest Wizard of Oz Festival in Tinley Park is the same weekend as the Oz Club’s convention. The Club will provide some programing on the festival grounds for the public, and expects attendees to visit the festival while they’re in the area. Sunday afternoon convention programming is less structured, allowing attendees to visit the festival, head into the city for organized or informal tours, or to relax and socialize. Everyone is expected to regroup in the Hyde Park neighborhood in Chicago to tour the grounds of the White City, inspiration for the Emerald City, and see the Oz play “Scraps” written and produced by Chicago Club member Anthony Whitaker, artistic director at the New American Folk Theatre.
Please visit OzConvention.org , for program and hotel information, to register, and to sign up for our email convention newsletter.