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There’s No Place Like Home: Wizard of Oz Days Returns to Chesterton, Indiana, May 14 and 15, 2022

Follow the Yellow Brick Road for an “OZsome” weekend that will present the amazing Wizard of Oz characters who will both perform and meet and greet fans, as Judy Garland’s 100th Birthday is celebrated. The event, which draws people from throughout the Midwest (and nationally), will feature Joe Luft, the son of the legendary Judy Garland.

Chesterton, Indiana – All the magic, entertainment and camaraderie of Chesterton’s legendary Wizard of Oz Festival returns as the Wizard of Oz Days, May 14 and 15, 2022, at the Duneland Falls Banquet & Event Center, 1100 North Max Mochal Highway (SR 149) in Chesterton, IN 46304.

Over 40 years ago Chesterton, Indiana, hosted a spectacular weekend to celebrate The Wizard of Oz and for several decades became the nation’s largest Wizard of Oz Festival. And we are bringing that back. Now returning once again, the “OZsome” weekend promises to delight fans of all ages, indoors and out. The event, which draws people from throughout the Midwest (and nationally), will feature Joe Luft, the son of the legendary Judy Garland, Peter Mac as Judy and more, as Judy Garland’s 100th Birthday is celebrated (Judy Garland was born Frances Ethel Gumm; June 10, 1922 – June 22, 1969).

Follow the Yellow Brick Road to a weekend that will present the amazing Wizard of Oz characters who will both perform and meet and greet fans for photo ops. Programs feature many favorite stars of the Oz community, such as Joe Luft (son of Judy Garland), Peter Mac as Judy, Joe Shipbaugh (Oz artist), James & Amanda Wallace (Oz Authors), over 15 munchkin actors from Oz, The Great & Powerful movie, Michael Roche (Oz Artist), Michael Siewert (Oz & Judy Garland Historian) Steven’s Puppets, Todd Rector (Oz Artist), Rick Ewigleben (Oz Artist), Michael Siewert (Oz & Judy Historian), Tim Wolak (Oz Artist) and more to be announced. Don’t miss your chance to meet the official Wizard of Oz characters: Dorothy and Toto, Scarecrow, Tin Man, Lion, the Wicked Witch of the West, and Glinda, the Good Witch of the North.

Indoor events will take place in and around the Duneland Falls Banquet & Event Center, kicking off the weekend Friday, May 13, 2022 at 5pm with the sparkly Ruby Slipper Gala with a catered dinner, special Ozzy guests, a live Oz music concert, Oz in Chesterton retrospective, live Oz collectible auction and more.

Live Entertainment, games, Oz collectibles, handmade crafts, food vendors, contests and more will be offered.

On Saturday, May 14th, there will be a “Breakfast with the Wizard of Oz Characters” from 9am to 10am. Breakfast tickets are $12 per person, under age one, free. Ticket includes admission to the Wizard of Oz Days festivities.

The Saturday afternoon “Celebration of the Munchkins” event will take place at 1:30 pm. The Ballroom will be transformed into Munchkin Land, complete with a sweet treats and chocolate fountain. The event will feature a presentation by Michael Siewert on Munchkin Margret Pellegrini (one of the Munchkins from the 1939 film; there were 124 munchkins in the movie). Until her death in 2013, she was one of the three surviving munchkins, the other two being Jerry Maren and Ruth Robinson Duccini. Pellegrini said she was 16 when “The Wizard of Oz” was filmed. She played one of the “sleepy head” kids and wore a flowerpot on her head in the movie. “There are two roads in life that you can take – the wrong road and the right road,” she said. “And remember, there really is no place like home.”

Other presentations will include Munchkin Actors from Oz, The Great & Powerful movie, along with a dedication to Mary Ellen St. Aubin (Munchkin by Marriage to Parnell St. Aubin) and to first lady (Ms. Jean Nelson) of the original Chesterton Wizard of Oz Festival in 1981.

Sidebar: The reason why The Wizard of Oz is widely regarded as the first color movie is because of the effect it had on the industry. Dorothy’s step into the land of Oz represented the evolution from “Old Hollywood,” a sepia and monochromatic environment, into a new world full of lively color and happiness. Judy Garland was 17 years-old when the Wizard of Oz was filmed in 1939.

Event Venue: Duneland Falls Banquet & Event Center, 1100 North Max Mochal Highway (SR 149)Chesterton, IN 46304
Dates: May 14 and 15, 2022
Hours: Saturday & Sunday 10am to 4pm
Admission: $7.00, children under 2 free


Southern Indiana Designated Sentinel Landscape

More than 3.5 million acres in Southern Indiana have been designated as a Sentinel Landscape, part of a federal program aimed at strengthening military readiness, conserving natural resources, protecting critical habitat, enhancing America’s working lands, and helping prepare Indiana for environmental changes.

The Sentinel Landscapes partnership, comprised of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Department of Defense (DoD), and Department of Interior (DOI), announced Southern Indiana as one of three new additions to the Sentinel Landscape program, and one of only ten in the country.

Southern Indiana is home to four critical Department of Defense installations and associated ranges, including Naval Support Activity Crane, Lake Glendora Test Facility, Atterbury-Muscatatuck Training Center, and the Indiana Air Range Complex. The region also contains six state parks, seven state forests, nine state fish and wildlife areas, 39 state-dedicated nature preserves, three National Wildlife Refuges, and the Hoosier National Forest.

“This designation ensures we continue to protect Southern Indiana’s beautiful landscape and at the same time preserve our nation’s critical military mission here at home,” said Indiana Governor Eric J. Holcomb. “In doing so, we’ll bolster regional economic development and the employment opportunities that come with it, alongside our federal and military partners. Indiana’s proud to do both, enhancing national security and our state’s natural resources.”

The Sentinel Landscape partnership includes federal, state, and private entities. Key partners in Indiana include: Conservation Law Center at Indiana University Maurer School of Law; The Nature Conservancy; Indiana Economic Development Corporation – Defense Development Office; Indiana Department of Natural Resources; Indiana Defense Task Force; The White River Military Coordination Alliance; and numerous local and state-level conservation organizations.

“It’s no exaggeration that the Sentinel Landscape is one of the biggest conservation projects in Indiana history,” said Christian Freitag, Executive Director of Conservation Law Center and Clinical Associate Professor of Law at Indiana University. “It’s an example of how conservation can be an across-the-board win when the right partners work towards common ground. Even more, the Sentinel partnership we’ve assembled shows our shared recognition that conservation projects help our economy and improve our quality of life.”

Southern Indiana contains a number of agencies and organizations focused on rural economic development, agricultural heritage, and natural area conservation. This designation aims to build upon existing conservation partnerships and military protections that are of mutual benefit.

“This project is another example of how the Conservation Law Center’s expertise and ability to build coalitions is the right medicine at the right time for the most pressing environmental challenges facing our state and country,” said Austen Parrish, Dean of the Maurer School of Law at Indiana University. “We couldn’t be prouder to partner with CLC and the incredible Sentinel team on this important opportunity.”

In addition to improving landscape resilience by maintaining and connecting healthy forests, the project also addresses habitat needs of various native species, including the federally endangered Indiana bat and federally threatened northern long-eared bat. Likewise, Southern Indiana Sentinel Landscape partners plan to focus on river and watershed protection by implementing regional watershed management plans along with state and federal wetland and waterway programs.

“Ensuring Southern Indiana remains a safe haven for native species and conservation of natural lands is critical,” said Larry Clemens, State Director of The Nature Conservancy in Indiana. “This designation gives us important private and public sector tools and expands upon critical partnerships to protect lands, improve water quality, enhance climate resiliency, and preserve the beauty and splendor of Southern Indiana.”

In addition to Southern Indiana Sentinel Landscape, Camp Bullis Sentinel Landscape in Texas and the Northwest Florida Sentinel Landscape were also designated. For more visit, https://go.usa.gov/xteqq/.

“DoD is proud to support the growth of the Sentinel Landscapes partnership and add Camp Bullis, Northwest Florida, and Southern Indiana to the list of designated sentinel landscapes,” said Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Real Property Ron Tickle. “These new landscape designations will leverage DoD funding and programs to protect the missions at 14 key DoD installations and ranges, protecting essential testing and training operations, enhancing resilience to climate change, and preserving our nation’s natural resources and working lands.”

More about Sentinel Landscapes

USDA, DoD, and DOI define Sentinel Landscapes as areas in which natural and working lands are well suited to protect defense facilities from land use that is incompatible with the military’s mission.

Once the partnership designates a location as a Sentinel Landscape, USDA, DoD, and DOI work with local partners to equip private landowners with the resources necessary to carry out sustainable management practices on their properties. Sustainable management practices such as farming, ranching and forestry not only offer economic and ecological benefits, but also protect defense facilities from incompatible development that can constrain the military’s ability to carry out training and testing activities.

Sentinel Landscapes accomplish their objectives by connecting private landowners with voluntary state and federal assistance programs that provide agricultural loans, disaster relief, educational opportunities, financial and technical assistance, and funding for conservation easements.

For more information about Sentinel Landscapes, visit sentinellandscapes.org.



Crane Army Celebrates Long Legacy of Serving the Warfighter

For 80 years hardworking Hoosiers here have diligently supported the defense of our nation through many wars and conflicts. Crane Army Ammunition Activity is proud of its role in this legacy of service and has faithfully provided munitions to our men and women in uniform whenever and wherever needed following its own founding in 1977.

Since being established and assuming the mission of providing munitions readiness to all the services, Crane Army played a major role in supplying warfighters with the materials they needed to succeed overseas during wide-ranging hostilities such as the Gulf War, the Bosnian War and the War on Terror.

“The exceptional ability of our people to meet the urgent needs of the warfighter sets Crane Army apart,” said CAAA Deputy to the Commander Norm Thomas, who has worked with Crane Army for 38 years. “They go out and excel at it every day. Every one of them steps up and handles their duties with passion.”

“I find it very fulfilling to know what we do at Crane Army supports our warfighters and protects our country,” said Vickie McKibben, the lead depot operations supply system analyst for CAAA. “It has been rewarding to see folks over the years come here and grow and learn about how much we do for the warfighter and realize they’re contributing to the security of our nation.”

For example, CAAA employees worked tirelessly to meet the short deadlines required by surging troops during Desert Storm in 1991. During the Gulf War Crane Army was responsible for supplying nearly 50,000 tons of ammunition and shipped hundreds of rail and truck loads over a short period of time.

“We had a big push in our ability to get materials out the door and items out for shipment, but we didn’t just meet the deadline,” Thomas said. “We simultaneously improved our out-loading processes as we shipped munitions out, resulting in an incredible revitalization in the face of a challenge.”

Ten years later Crane Army also reorganized its production and demilitarization missions under a new manufacturing and engineering directorate. The manufacturing and engineering workforce has since found new and innovative ways to produce, demilitarize and refurbish munitions and conventional ammunition for the Army. Manufacturing and engineering is currently involved in a range of projects from the production and renovation of pyrotechnic flares, bombs, artillery, charges and bursters to demilitarization processes where munitions are destroyed in ways that preserve materials so they can be recycled or reused. These salvaged materials can sometimes be put to immediate use like in CAAA’s white phosphorous plant where rounds are converted to phosphoric acid.

“My work finding and brainstorming ways to safely destroy or take apart unserviceable munitions, and working with other engineers to make them come to life, makes it so that the storage space we have can be filled up with usable munitions,” said Robin Hart, a planner and estimator for manufacturing and engineering who has worked with CAAA since 1980. “Through our demilitarization we can make a difference in funding too. I have seen how jobs get funded and equipment is purchased based on the recycling we are able to do.”

CAAA proved its dedication once again in 2003 during Operation Iraqi Freedom. CAAA temporarily shut down production lines so that employees from all directorates could focus solely on shipping munitions to support the mission. Crane Army employees worked around the clock, seven days a week, until the mission was complete to ensure the thousands of tons of munitions Crane Army supplied were in the hands of the warfighter when they needed to be.

“During Operation Iraqi Freedom we supported several missions but during one in particular, uniformed soldiers came and worked side by side with our folks,” McKibben said. “To see them working side by side in the cold and the dark and doing what it took to get the munitions ready to go out; it was inspiring and it sticks out in my mind as one of my favorite memories.”

CAAA has a proven history of delivering unmatched munitions when they are needed but Crane Army has never stopped looking forward for more ways it can help the warfighter succeed. Crane Army remembers and respects its past but continues to modernize to determine the most efficient ways of providing the best possible munitions in the years ahead.

“We are going to see a focus on modernization,” Thomas said. “There’s this incredible appetite to fund and pursue modernization, not just in our amazing facilities, processes and equipment, but in the people that make Crane Army the unmatched force that it is.”

The most significant factor in Crane Army’s storied history is the hardworking men and women who have contributed to its mission and continue to make it what it is today. Their dedication to their nation and to each other has and will continue to make CAAA one of the premier munitions providers for our armed forces.

“People ask me why I stay and all I can tell them is I love what I do and I love who I work with,” said Hart. “The relationships I have with my team are so important.”

Crane Army Ammunition Activity produces and provides conventional munitions in support of U.S. Army and Joint Force readiness. It is part of the Joint Munitions Command and the U.S. Army Materiel Command, which include arsenals, depots, activities and ammunition plants. Established Oct. 1977, it is located on Naval Support Activity Crane.


1942 (Click on Photo Above for more Info)

1977 (Click on Photo Above for more Info)

1991 (Click on Photo Above for more Info)