Magazine article Variety

Hometown Fans Have a Ball - and a Garland and a Martin

Magazine article Variety

Hometown Fans Have a Ball - and a Garland and a Martin

Article excerpt

Stars may head to Hollywood to make their careers, but their hometown fans don't have to travel far for the festivals that celebrate them. Regional fests are taking place throughout the country this summer to honor showbiz legends Lucille Ball, Judy Garland and Dean Martin.

Since 1975, Grand Rapids, Minn., (pop. 11,000) has celebrated Garland, and the film that made her famous, with the Wizard of Oz festival. This year's 39th annual fest includes her son, Joe Luft, as guest of honor, and features carriage rides on a yellow brick road with a horse of a different color and an outdoor screening of the film. The town has restored Garland's childhood home and built a $3 million Judy Garland Museum next door. "Our community is very proud that their native daughter ... starred in the world's most beloved movie," says John Kelsch, the museum's executive director. Kelsch expects as many as 5,000 people to attend the fest.

In Jamestown, N.Y., (pop. 31,000) the Lucille Ball Comedy Festival includes 50 events over a five day span, with Jay Leno as the headliner. "This festival is a mix of contemporary comedy and nostalgia targeted to Lucy fans," says Journey Gunderson, exec director of the Lucy Desi Museum & Center for Comedy. …

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