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Peekskill Event Celebrates Connection to Wizard of Oz

Those visiting Peekskill on September 16 can live their Lollipop Guild fantasy at the annual OzLand Festival, where performers will celebrate the timeless fun of L. Frank Baum’s The Wizard of Oz.

The third-annual event is bigger this year, expanding to both South and Brown Streets in downtown Peekskill. It features a new, large stage that features singers, dancers and musicians. There will also be food trucks, vendors, pony rides, emerald glasses and group activities like Zumba.

Event organizer Scarlett Antonia, who is also owner of The Artist Spot in the town’s downtown area, says she would love to see a huge line dance of attendees dressed like the denizens of Munchkinland strutting to the beat of “Ease on Down the Road” from The Wiz musical.

“I envision, in the future, Munchkinland down at the riverfront and then [having visitors] come up the Yellow Brick Road to the Emerald City downtown.”

For now, she says the event will have people dressed as the story’s characters: “We have a Lion and a Scarecrow who will be running around. One of the Zumba dancers will be dressed as a witch.”

The OzLand festival celebrates author Baum’s attendance at the Peekskill Military Academy around 1868. Yellow bricks found beneath Peekskill’s contemporary pavement are believed to have inspired the Yellow Brick Road that appears in his most famous book.

ArtsWestchester awarded Antonia Arts with an Arts Alive grant for this year’s festival, and the organization’s ArtsMobile will also be at the festival for the first time.

Antonia has a long history with The Wizard of Oz. In 2015, she produced four sold-out performances of the play at the Paramount Hudson Valley Theater. This past spring, a youth musical theater troupe that she leads performed the musical “Oz on Stage.”

Saturday’s event ends with small fireworks. Antonia laughed when asked if anyone will recreate the dramatic moment in the Oz film when the Wicked Witch of the West skywrites “Surrender Dorothy” over the Emerald City.

“That’s probably next year. I love the idea,” she said.