The time is drawing near! Only a couple of weeks to go, and I couldn’t be more excited, especially with this year’s planned events and special guests. Oz-Stravaganza! is the annual three-day festival that is sort of like an Oz-themed county fair—with outdoor rides, merchandise booths, great food, live music, shops, a parade along a quaint main street paved with yellow bricks, etc. It draws thousands of patrons annually to the picturesque village of Chittenango, New York, just minutes outside of Syracuse—the birthplace of Oz author and creator L. Frank Baum.
I have to say, I’m rather humbled to find myself listed among the glittering roster of special guests for 2012. The grand marshal for this year’s parade and festival is none other than Gregory Maguire, author of “Wicked,” its many sequels, and other terrific, best-selling books.
Gregory will be on hand for events and signings throughout the weekend. The special guests, other than yours truly (hard for me to believe), include the talented performer André De Shields, who created the title role in the original Broadway production of “The Wiz” in 1975. I completely wore out my cast albums of “The Wiz” and “Ain’t Misbehavin’,” and I can’t wait to meet him. The ever-youthful Caren Marsh-Doll, who was Judy Garland’s stand-in for MGM’s “The Wizard of Oz,” Margaret Pellegrini, who played a Munchkin 73 years ago in that famous movie, Bob Baum, great-grandson of the Oz creator, and his wife Clare, and John Fricke, renowned author and expert on all things Oz and Judy Garland. You can read bios for the special guests by CLICKING HERE.
Authors Alley has some terrific returning guests (other than yours truly) and includes first-timer Felicia Ricci, whose book “Unnaturally Green” tells a delightful behind-the-scenes account of her adventures understudying the leading role of Elphaba in the musical “Wicked,” as well as authors and illustrators Ron Baxley, Jr., Gwendolyn Tennille, Tom Hutchison, and James C. Wallace II. CLICK HERE for more information.
Needless to say, I couldn’t be more excited to be in their esteemed company.
In addition to selling and signing copies of “Silver Shoes,” I will be on hand to talk about my special pen pal when I was a wide-eyed second-grader in Kansas. Her name was Margaret Hamilton, and she is rather famous for playing a certain legendary Wicked Witch in a certain classic MGM film made in 1939! It was an unforgettable experience, and I will share my memories of meeting her and corresponding with her as part of the festivities. I am also thrilled to announce that Oz-Stravaganza! 2012 will be the debut signing event for the sequel to “Silver Shoes” … “The Powder of Life.” I will have hardcover and trade paperback copies available for this action-adventure/fantasy novel, which has just been published.
My schedule of events is still very much a work in progress with more to be added, but since permission has been granted to promote and publicize, I thought I would share it with you now. I will update and amend this as needed:
OZ-STRAVAGANZA! 2012 APPEARANCE SCHEDULE
WEDNESDAY, MAY 30 (Pre-festival):
9:30 AM on WMCR-FM Radio: “Learn and Laugh With Linda” — I will be a guest on the morning talk show along with John Fricke and Colleen Zimmer for a roundtable discussion about Oz and this year’s festival.
FRIDAY, JUNE 1:
- 12:45 PM to 2:11 PM — The Writer’s Chair: Ceremony and Workshop at Chittenango High School. High school students have entered “The Writer’s Chair” contest, and the awards ceremony is held this day with a short discussion/workshop of writing (in small groups). I will be participating in the workshop.
- 4:00 PM to 5:30 PM — A book-signing session at Chittenango High School.
- 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM — I will be on hand in the audience for Friday’s presentation at the high school, although not participating until Saturday evening’s presentation (they have split the guests up into two nights). Friday’s lineup is: Bob & Clare Baum (great-grandson of author L. Frank Baum), John Fricke (host, Emmy-winner, and renowned author), Felicia Ricci (Elphaba understudy in the musical “Wicked”), and Gregory Maguire (best-selling author of “Wicked”).
SATURDAY, JUNE 2:
- 8:00 AM to 10:00 AM — Pancake Breakfast at the Presbyterian Church for a book-signing. The breakfast is from 7:00 AM to noon, but I will be on hand from 8 to 10. The Church is located right in the heart of the festival in Chittenango.
- 2:00 PM — The Annual Oz-Stravaganza! Parade — look for me, smiling and waving!
- 3:30 PM to 5:30 PM — A book-signing session held at the festival park in Glinda’s Royal Tent.
- 6:00 PM — Stage program at Chittenango High School. I will be talking all about my second-grade pen pal, Margaret Hamilton, the Wicked Witch of the West! The full Saturday evening lineup is: John Fricke, Margaret Pellegrini and Myrna Swenson (MGM Munchkins), Caren Marsh-Doll (Judy Garland’s stand-in for “The Wizard of Oz”), a talk on Billie Burke, me (who??), and Andre De Shields (the original “Wiz” on Broadway).
SUNDAY, JUNE 3:
- 11:00 AM — Royal Historian’s Writing Contest Ceremony. Bob Baum, John Fricke, Lynne Beltz (of The International Wizard of Oz Club), and I will be reading the winning short stories.
- 12:30 PM to 3:00 PM — A book-signing session held at the festival park in Glinda’s Royal Tent.
- 4:00 PM — Grand finale (closing ceremony) on stage at the festival.
More to follow, as information becomes available! I hope you can make it to this unforgettable celebration of Baum, Oz, and the birth of their creativity, held in such a beautiful town. I’m so pleased to be going back this year!