We're Off to See the Wizard of Oz in Kansas
Our New Book
Wamego and the Oz MuseumSee the world's largest collection of Oz memorabilia at this small museum, located about 20 minutes east of Manhattan (home to Kansas State University). An eight-foot-tall Tinman towers above visitors and the Wicked Witch's legs stick out from beneath the edge of Dorothy's house, in brightly striped socks. There's a pair of ruby slippers, hand-encrusted with 3,500 Swarovski crystal rhinestones that was created in honor of the movie's 50th anniversary; and a photo of Dorothy holding Toto with Judy Garland's signature on the mat. Movie fans can catch a few minutes of the movie - or the entire thing, in a small screening room with comfortable chairs.
In September, enjoy a twist on traditional Oktoberfest celebrations during Wamego's annual three-day OZtoberFest. Enjoy kids' activities, the Ruby Slipper Run and Yellow Brick Road Bike Ride, and even a wine and microbrewery tasting event in downtown Wamego.
The restored Columbian Theatre will also offer a stage production of the beloved story. Whether you visit during the festival or at some other time, the Oz Museum is the perfect destination for Wizard of Oz enthusiasts. For additional Oz inspiration, visit Wamego's Oz Winery and Toto's Tacoz while you're in town.
Sedan and the Yellow Brick RoadIf you've always dreamed of walk along the Yellow Brick Road, here's your chance. Located in southeast Kansas, tiny Sedan has installed more than 11,000 pale 'yellow' bricks in their downtown area, to create the nation's largest Yellow Brick Road.
Since 1988, this unusual site has drawn upwards of 45,000 visitors, annually. People from every state, 28 foreign countries and even sister city, Sedan, France, have purchased bricks. But that's not all. A "celebrity section' features individual bricks from several of the original Munchkins, as well as Tanya Tucker, Bob Hope and Elizabeth Taylor and famous folks.
While you're in Sedan, stay at The Red Buffalo Ranch, owned by legendary journalist and reporter, Bill Kurtis, and see the ranch's spectacular Butcher Falls. Downtown, visit The Red Buffalo Gift Shop owned by Kurtis' daughter (open Wednesday through Saturday), and his Art of the Prairie Gallery, which showcases Midwestern artists.
Liberal Kansas and Dorothy's House -- Land of Oz
See the cornfield where she met the Scarecrow, and the brilliant green gates of Emerald City. There's also an original model of Dorothy's house that was used in filming of the 1939 movie. In addition, the Land of OZ offers plenty of animated entertainment, with witches, Munchkins, talking trees and many of the movie's signature characters.
For an added dose of movie magic, visit Liberal in October during the annual OzFest (October 12th and 13th, 2013) attended by Munchkin actors, with character look-alike contests, special events for dogs and much more.
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Lisa Waterman Gray is a freelance writer and photographer, who has crafted thousands of stories and reviews for national, regional, and local print and online publications. Widely published in Greater Kansas City, Kansas and Missouri, she specializes in travel and food topics, and also writes human interest, health, and business stories. She was previously an editor for Kansas City Homes & Gardens and The Sun. The Countryman Press/W.W. Norton released Lisa's first national book, An Explorer's Guide: Kansas, in June 2011.
Unless otherwise indicated, all photos by the author