Judy Garland Festival Boasts Weekend Of Events To Commemorate 50th Anniversary Of Star’s Death
Judy Garland left a legacy that spans generations and this weekend, Grand Rapids is celebrating that legacy with a festival filled with music, humor and magic.
“The Grand Rapids Garland Festival has been going on since the 1970s and it ebbs and flows, but this is a very special year because it’s exactly 50 years ago this week that Judy Garland passed away, and this summer is the 80th anniversary of the release of ‘The Wizard of Oz,’” says Judy Garland historian John Fricke.
“80 years later, the movie still touches people, and it still touches people who have watched it 10 times, 20 times,” adds Paul Herrick, the Judy Garland Festival Producer.
Over the weekend, fans will enjoy various movie viewings, Judy trivia, special concerts and a banquet. The whole program revolves around the star.
“Judy Garland is special because not only did she have all the talent she needed, but she succeeded in every entertainment medium. Radio, stage, television, movies, recordings and beyond, succeeding – that work is still important today,” says Fricke.
Many of the events for the festival will be held at the Judy Garland Museum, but this year organizers are also stepping out of the venue with a bus tour.
“We stop at all the different sites that are associated with Judy and her family including the church that contains her baptismal records, and we’ll stop and look at her baptismal certificate,” says Herrick.
For many Judy Garland fans, the festival serves as a sort of family reunion.
“Grand Rapids is not easy to get to, but we have people here from Texas, from Indiana, from Ohio, from Wisconsin. They have come from all over the country from California because they want to be with other people who feel about her the way they do. They want to share the joy,” says Fricke.
The list of Judy Garland Festival Events is as follows:
Friday, June 21st, there will be a full day of events at the Judy Garland Museum. From 10:30 a.m. – Noon, “Judy Jeopardy” will be played with loads of fun in the Art Room. Tickets are $5.00. From 1:00 – 2:45 p.m., “Judy in the Movies” – John Fricke presents film clips and anecdotes in a program he created for the 2014 Turner Classic Movies Festival in Los Angeles. It’s a motion picture history of Judy from childhood to maturity, and glimpses of her work with everyone from Fanny Brice to Mickey Rooney, Fred Astaire and Maximilian Schell. Tickets are $10.00.
From 3:30 – 4:45 p.m. John Fricke will host a much more personal program on Judy Garland titled, “Powerful, Sincere, Fragile, Triumphant, Joyous, Iconic, Legendary.” In this program he’ll present backstage and behind the scenes memories of Judy from fans, friends and strangers she met across the years. Plus, there will be thoughts and remembrances of people during the last five decades since her passing. Tickets are $10.00.
Friday night concludes the celebration with a grand event at the Reif Center: “From Gershwin to Garland in Concert with Richard Glazier and Joan Ellison.” This program puts the spotlight on two of the greatest figures in American Popular Song: George Gershwin and Judy Garland. It’s a multi-media event which includes the songs of Gershwin and his contemporaries, stories and rare film footage, including Gershwin home movies! Richard Glazier has performed around the world and received awards for his three nationally broadcast PBS specials. Joan Ellison has performed her one-woman Judy Garland show throughout the U.S. in theaters and with symphony orchestras. This is a concert you won’t want to miss. A reception at the Reif follows. The show starts at 7:00 p.m. Tickets are $20.00 and must be purchased at the Reif.
Saturday, June 22nd will be a fun-filled day of interesting programs. At 10:30, the Judy Garland Museum will host the final John Fricke talk with Judy in Concert, with a video compilation with Judy as Judy – the best of the best. Tickets are $10.00.
Because “The Gumm Family’s Grand Rapids Bus Tour” has sold out, the Museum is hosting a free showing of the first episode of Judy’s 1962 television series, “The Judy Garland Show” with guest star Mickey Rooney. This is a great nostalgia show during which Judy and Mickey reminisce about many of their films and sing the songs they made famous. This event is from 1:30-2:30 p.m. Admission is FREE with Museum admission or membership.
“Singing in Judy’s House” with Richard Glazier at the piano will be great fun. Once again, the walls of the Gumm home will ring with the sounds of music, including favorites from the Garland Songbook. This event will be from 3:00 – 4:00 p.m. Tickets are $5.00.
Saturday evening from 5:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m., the Judy Garland Festival will conclude at the Timberlake Lodge, 144 SE 175h Street in Grand Rapids with the “Grand Finale Banquet… & Reminiscences from ‘The Judy Family of Fans’ about the Fascination & Uplift She Inspires.” A buffet dinner will be served. It is advised that you reserve and pay in advance. $35.00 per person.
All tickets for events other than the Reif Center may be purchased from the Judy Garland Museum, 2727 Pokegama Ave, Grand Rapids, MN, by phone or online. The Reif Center concert must be purchased at The Reif Center in Grand Rapids, MN. Tickets will be sold the night of the performance.