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No Oz Fest this year in Tinley Park

Visitors dress as characters from 'The Wizard Oz' during 2010 Chestert(Ind.) Wizard Oz Festival. Plans hold event Tinley Park next

Visitors dress as characters from "The Wizard of Oz" during the 2010 Chesterton (Ind.) Wizard of Oz Festival. Plans to hold the event in Tinley Park next month have been postponed to next year. | Supplied photo by Carla Sellers

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Updated: September 21, 2014 6:18AM



There’s no chance to see the wizard this year in Tinley Park.

Dave De John, organizer of the Midwest Wizard of Oz Festival, said plans now are to shoot for bringing the festival to the village sometime next year.

De John announced in the spring his plans to relocate the festival from Northwest Indiana to Centennial Park in Orland Park, but a few weeks ago said logistical issues and concerns about potential damage to sports fields at the park forced him to seek a new site.

Tinley Park officials this month gave tentative approval to hosting the festival but told De John he needed to finalize his plans before the festival could proceed.

The festival tentatively was planned for Sept. 19 to 21 on park district property south of the 80th Avenue Metra station as well as Veterans Parkway and some state land just west of the former Tinley Park Mental Health Center.

In the end, ambitious plans as big as Kansas ran into a Munchkin-size window of time, De John said Tuesday.

“I felt like I’m out of time,” he said, noting that if he had tried to rush things and hold the festival this year “it’s not going to turn out the way people would like it.”

Putting on an event that didn’t live up to its billing also could have damaged future efforts to hold the festival, he acknowledged.

“As hard as it is to postpone it, it’s just what makes sense,” De John said.

He had said upward of 40,000 might have attended the three-day event, which would have featured vendors along Veterans Parkway, a carnival midway, hot air balloon rides and a visit from Roger Baum, great-grandson of writer L. Frank Baum, whose book provided the basis for the famous movie.

Tinley Park officials have offered the same site to De John for next year, and he said the planning for the 2015 event is continuing, with a meeting with village staff planned this week. No date has been set yet for Oz Fest.

In a statement, village Trustee Greg Hannon said the village remains “extremely excited about bringing this festival to Tinley Park” and that it “has the potential to be the biggest and best Wizard of Oz event in the country.”

Previously called the Indiana Wizard of Oz Festival and annually held in Chesterton, Indiana, it last was held in 2012 after a 31-year run. Jean Nelson, the founder of that event, had helped De John’s efforts to revive the festival this year.

De John said he and his family attended the Indiana event several times and wanted this year’s event to be “more of a continuation” of that Oz Festival, with a “blend of some of the old with some of the new.”



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