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.
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.
For more than 50 years, ArtsWestchester has been the community’s connection to the arts. Founded in 1965, it is the largest, private, not-for-profit arts council in New York State. Its mission is to provide leadership, vision, and support, to ensure the availability, accessibility, and diversity of the arts. ArtsWestchester provides programs and services that enrich the lives of everyone in Westchester County. ArtsWestchester helps fund concerts, exhibitions and plays through grants; brings artists into schools and community centers; advocates for the arts; and builds audiences through diverse marketing initiatives. In 1998, ArtsWestchester purchased the nine-story neo-classical bank building at 31 Mamaroneck Avenue which has since been transformed into a multi-use resource for artists, cultural organizations, and the community. A two-story gallery is located on the first floor of ArtsWestchester’s historic building on Mamaroneck Avenue.