By JESSICA CRAWFORD
• Daily Leader
Autumn has fallen upon Liberal. To the locals, that means only one thing – Ozfest. Ozfest 2010 will be packed full of contests, games, displays and entertainers. The highlight of this year’s event is an exhibit of a Thomas Kinkade painting entitled, “Dorothy Discovers the Emerald City.” From 8 a.m. to approximately 5 p.m. Saturday, it will be all about Oz at the Coronado Museum.
Ozfest 2010 Chairman Russ Almes was happy to announce the many activities and entertainment available.
“We are going to have live music going on all day on Saturday,” Almes said. “We are going to have Liberal’s RBC Band. We are also going to have the Soul Preachers from Salina, they are a classic rock band. As of a couple days ago, we have confirmed that the Jay Hollis Band is going to be here. I don’t know if they are going to play for us, but they will be here. They are out of Amarillo and play country music.
“The Kwahadi Indians will be here, they are from Amarillo,” he continued. “They are Native American Indian dancers. They travel worldwide, the group is comprised of young men and women. They are very, very good – you don’t want to miss them. The Matachines Dancers from St. Anthony’s Catholic Church will be performing. We have never had them here, but we are certainly looking forward to having them.”
Executive Director of the Coronado Museum, JoAnne Mansell expressed her gratitude to those who took the time to plan the games for children attending Ozfest 2010. From the Munchkin Munchies to Uncle Henry’s Fish Pond, many games will be available.
“Cristen Snyder and Trudi Robinson were responsible for putting all the children’s games together this year, they did a great job,” she said. “These ladies have done an excellent job at putting these games together.”
This year’s Ozfest contests are new and improved, Almes and Mansell said. Prizes, they added, will be impressive this year as well.
“For activities, we have a texting contest sponsored by EPIC, you can enter on the grounds and EPIC will have a sign up location,” Mansell said. “There will be a $100 prize for the participant who can text the fastest. “We will have the scarecrow dancing contest, which is sponsored by Heritage Real Estate, there will be a $50 prize for the winner. They have to come in and sign up, there will be some music and they can do any kind of dance they want.
“We have a petting zoo this year, we will have some bucket calves,” she continued. “We have the flying monkey contest, that will be up on the stage also. There will be a neat prize for that.”
The look-a-like contests this year will be a bit different than in years past, Almes said.
“There will be look-alike contests for all characters in the Wizard of Oz,” Almes said. “It will be for all ages and any character from the movie. We decided on all characters, not just the Tin Man, Scarecrow and Dorothy – it will be every single character. We are going to divide it out by age groups.”
Almes added that local first responders will be on hand for the festivities as well.
“We will have the Liberal Fire Department on hand,” he said. “An entire crew of firefighters will be here with their truck. From the Liberal Police Department, we will have handler Bryan Flohr and the K-9 unit, Rex. We will also have the Explorers here.”
Mansell added the Explorers have always been a very supportive bunch when it comes to Ozfest. The KEY Club, she said, will be helping out as well.
“We always love having the Explorers, these young men and women do an amazing job so we appreciate them volunteering,” she said. “We also have the KEY Club from Liberal High School volunteering this year. There are also a multitude of citizens who have stepped up to help us. Ozfest would not come together without the help of our community. Our corporate sponsors this year have just been amazing. We have had some of the best support this year from our corporate sponsors, probably some of the best support we have ever had.”
The Ozfest T-shirts have taken on a new look for 2010, Almes said.
“They were designed by Liz Hyler, she is a Kansas State graduate,” he said. “She is a graphic design artist. She created the design, emailed it to us, we took a look at it and modified it a couple of times. It is a really neat design.”
A schedule for the day’s events can be found at www.dorothyshouse.com. Mansell said the Web site has taken on a new look thanks to graphic artist Trevor Feldhausen.
“Trevor Feldhausen is our graphic artist that has been working diligently on our Web page and putting it all together for us this year,” she said. “He has perfected and rebuilt our Web page this year.”
Almes has high hopes for Ozfest 2010 and would like to see as many Liberal residents as possible come out and enjoy the day.
“I would like to see a lot of Liberal’s citizens show up this year,” he said. “I was doing some research, and I believe our first Ozfest was in 1991. This festival is important for the community, it defines us. The way I look at it is we are the first billboard west of Pratt on U.S. Highway 54 and the first billboard west of Salina on U.S. Highway 70 and we need to showcase Dorothy’s House, and this festival is very important for the community.”