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The Munchkins have already claimed the spots of honor for the annual Oztoberfest celebration, but there's plenty of room left in the arts and crafts show, parade and other activities. And, just as in the movie "The Wizard of Oz," there's even a special spot for dogs.
More than 20,000 people have attended the festival in years past. At least a handful of those people are "Oz scholars" or cast members from the movie.
Oztoberfest began as the result of that typical Kansas friendliness that extends to points afar - much like Dorothy's trip to a magical land.
Max and the late Katie Zimmerman of Liberal attended an insurance convention in San Francisco in 1978.
He sheepishly admits he entered a restaurant with his name tag on - a sure sign of a conventioneer.
Noting Max's state of origin, the waiter stated the obvious, "Oh, you're from Kansas. That's where Dorothy is from."
Max asked the waiter, "What would you expect to see in Kansas?"
The waiter replied he would expect to see Dorothy's house, like the one in The Wizard of Oz.
After returning from the West coast, Max shared the waiter's observation with the community and received some interest in Liberal becoming Dorothy's official home.
It wasn't until 1981 that the idea took a step closer to becoming reality.
Oliver Brown, a Liberal resident, knew of a house that resembled Dorothy's.
Volunteers moved the house to the Coronado Museum grounds where it was transformed into a replica of the house shown in the movie, and recognized by then-governor John Carlin as the official home of Dorothy Gale. An annual celebration sprang up around the exhibit, which continues to expand and draw tourists to the community.
In addition to the life-sized house, visitors can take a tour of the Land of Oz, a 5,000 square foot exhibit and animated journey through the movie. Originally created and displayed in Topeka, the attraction was moved to Liberal by its creator, Linda WindIer.
Guides dressed in Dorothy Galestyle gingham dresses and, naturally, ruby slippers, offer personal tours through the exhibits, explaining historical detail as well as a brief outline of the movie plot itself.
In the remaining space within the new structure that houses the Land of Oz, the museum has built onto its collection of Wizard of Oz artifacts.
Although the Historical Society already had some Oz memorabilia, including personal effects from the Munchkins, the new museum will give the society the influence it needs to acquire more.
Diehard movie fans can catch one of the continuous showings of the movie in the gift shop area, housed in the same building as the Coronado Museum. Various Oz gift items are for sale, including T-shirts and children's toys and books.
Zimmerman doesn't agree with those who say "The Wizard of Oz" projects the wrong sort of image for Kansas.
"You go all over the world, and the one place everybody knows is Kansas because of the movie," he said.
What: Walk-through Oz exhibit, memorabilia museum and gift shop.
Where: 567 East Cedar.
Hours: 9am - 5pm Monday - Saturday; 1pm - 5pm Sunday.
Closed Mondays in winter.
Phone: (620) 624-7624
Admission: $7.00 Adults, $4.50 Children, $5.50 Seniors
The secret of the film's appeal is also a plug for the state, Zimmerman said.
"The most important image of the whole film is this wholesome little girl who wants to get back to Kansas," he said.
"In spite of all the beauty, magic, and everything around her, she wanted to get back home - and that's what we're celebrating."
Last Updated: 22-November-2010
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