Grand Rapids, Minnesota: Every last weekend in June, this little town celebrates its' favorite daughter, Judy Garland. I attended the 23rd Annual Judy Garland Festival for the first time last June. The festival consists of three days of free movie screenings. This year the movies were "The Wizard of Oz" and "Girl Crazy". I didn't get to see either of the films on the big screen. Judy's two children were to make an appearance and meet with the fans. Lorna Luft was there on Thursday, but I missed meeting her. Joey Luft didn't show up because his father was ill. The hightlight of the festival was the presence of movie star, June Allyson! What a sweet lady she was. I attended a special event, "A Conversation with June Allyson". When I arrived, I saw her limo and watched her walk into the auditorium! Wow! I was able to view screen clips and hear about her film experiences during the Golden Age of Hollywood at the MGM studios! It was fabulous, I learned she was the Top box office star for the 1950's decade. During the Judy Festival, June mingled with us, signed autographs and posed for photots with ALL of us there. She was so gracious and wonderful! I hope she attends in the future. I would love to see other stars come... including Mickey Rooney, and Margaret O'Brien... who worked with Judy in some of her famous films. I missed the Gala Celebrity dinner the last evening... but to spend two days with other Judy fans, listening to her voice singing loudly outdoors and touring her house where she walked and ate, and slept for her first four years of life was alot of fun. I can't wait to see how the Judy Garland Festival grows into the next century.
When I traveled to Minnesota, it was my first independant trip I ever took. The main purpose was to finally meet my internet friend, Sarah. I preferred to call her "Ya" for short. We had never met before and I had funds to travel there! We were excited that we had never met before! I was a bit nervous about taking a flight alone, since I had never flown before and I had to make two connecting flight changes! Somehow, I survived that ordeal and met Ya and her family who were all very nice and gracious to let me stay in their home!
Minnesota is a wonderful state. I would describe it as green trees, shade, big lakes, white picket fences, and brown bunnies hopping around the neighborhood. The area was breathtaking. I thought it was a great place to live until I experienced the midnight tornado watch sirens... we all had to pile into the basement for an hour while powerful winds knocked the power supply out! That was nerve wracking! For the most part, Minnesota reminded me of the ideal dream of living!
Ya and I traveled down to Stillwater and went antique shopping for old Judy Garland items. I found one item and a Disney collectible! We also visited the famous "Mall of America"... where we went on a few rides. That IS the biggest mall in North America!
Of course, the trip wouldn't be complete without attending the birth town of Judy, Grand Rapids. The Festival was great. I met three Munchkins from the "Wizard of Oz" movie, the Lollipop Kid, the Coroner, and the Flower Pot girl! They signed autographs and posed for pictures with us in their costumes. :) I also explored the Judy Garland Children's museum with lots of neat pictures, movie props and costumes. I toured Judy's birthplace, and picked up a few things I couldn't find elsewhere. I met my other Net friends, Tina and Krystl as well. June Allyson showed up and it was great.
Overall, my big summer event of 1998 was a wonderful success that I will always remember as the happiest time before everything fell apart a few weeks later. However, I am now crazy about travelling to places! Next on my list, California, England, and Europe! (I dream big, okay?:)