Updated: Mar 25, 2022
Grand Rapids, Minnesota is a small community located in northern Minnesota. It boosts small town charm with its downtown brick boutique style shops, coffee shops and breweries. Grand Rapids is surrounded by over 1 million publicly accessible forest acres and over 1,400 area lakes. It is the perfect up north vacation destination location. Grand Rapids is the home of Judy Garland. This summer the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids will be hosting a 100th Birthday celebration for Judy Garland. Come join in on the festivities! Grand Rapids, Minnesota has a lot to offer!
Judy Garland was born in Grand Rapids Minnesota on June 10th, 1922; her birth name was Frances Ethel Gumm, but family and friends always called her “Baby.” Her family spent 12 years in Grand Rapids Minnesota running “New Grand Theater” from 1914 – 1926. They were well-respected and known around town as their theater was a main source of entertainment during that time. The Gumm Family spent many nights entertaining visitors. Her performance dazzled the crowd, and she joined her sisters on stage performing throughout Northeast and North Central Minnesota from 1924-1926.
At age 13 Judy landed a contract with MGM and by age 17, Judy got the role of Dorothy Gale in “The Wizard of Oz” launching her career into stardom. She quickly became a household name and overnight sensation. Judy received a special Academy Award Juvenile Oscar for her performance in “The Wizard of Oz”. She went on to make 34 feature films, 100 singles over 24 albums, 1100 performances, starred in a variety show, and was a regular on radio with Bob Hope. She became a world-renowned performer and is cherished by many, tragically Judy died in London at the young age of 47 in 1969.
After all these years, Judy’s legacy remains robust. The Judy Garland Museum was created in 1975 by Jackie Dingman and festivals celebrating Judy and The Wizard of Oz have been happening since 1979. The museum is looking forward to her upcoming 100th Birthday Celebration happening June 9th – 12th 2022 in Grand Rapids Minnesota. It is a milestone event for the town where the star was born; fun activities for all to enjoy! The most notable festival years for the museum include 1989, when a Wizard of Oz parade brought in thousands of visitors to the small town of Grand Rapids; the museum was awarded the Minnesota Office of Tourism Travel Marketing Award of Excellence. In 2014, the museum was granted the Guinness Book of World Records for having the most people dressed in Wizard of Oz costumes in one place at one time, with 1093 people! For many years, several of the original Munchkins were flown into the town to celebrate Judy and over the years nine different celebrities have attended including Mickey Rooney, June Allison, and the Wicked Witch herself, Margaret Hamilton.
Judy Garland talks about Grand Rapids and is quoted: “I do remember it was terribly happy and possibly the only kind of normal, carefree time in my life, and that was only for three years.” In 1994, Judy Garland’s Birthplace Home, originally built in 1892 was bought and moved to its current location on the south side of Grand Rapids at 2727 S. Pokegama Avenue. The house was restored to its 1920’s look with eye-witness accounts from locals who went to the home while the Gumm Family resided in it. The entire Judy Garland Museum relocated, and an 18,000 square foot multi-purpose museum has added on to the house. The feeling you get when you walk into this old house is like no other. It will bring you back to your childhood and you will imagine the Gumm sisters performing on the staircase while mom and dad played their instruments as they often did for guests.
The 100th Birthday Celebration will take place at the Judy Garland Museum location and will include fun events for Judy Garland and Wizard of Oz fans. Here are just a few of the events taking place:
- A Welcome Reception with a musical performance by Josh Gallagher's Jazz Band
- John Fricke, renowned Judy Garland expert, will host presentations on Judy Garland topics of interest
- Guided Tours of the house, gallery, and archives with John Kelsch, a 35-year Judy Garland Museum curator.
- Guided bus tours through Grand Rapids that will highlight areas were Judy and her family spent time.
- 100th Birthday Dinner Celebration featuring: Jennifer Grimm’s 11-piece band “Jennifer Grimm Sings Judy Garland.”
· Meet and greet with Judy’s son, Joe Luft
· Dash for the Ruby Slippers 5k Walk/Run
· Outdoor showing of “The Wizard of Oz” with other outdoor entertainment
You won’t want to miss this celebration bringing together fans and friends!
Special 100th Birthday Trip Packages
Take advantage of the 100th Birthday Trip Packages that have been created so everything is taken care of: lodging, meals, 100th Birthday tickets, spa packages, brewery tours, and much more! To learn more about the 100th Birthday Trip Packages, visit: http://visitgrandrapids.com/visiting-with-groups/
Summer Vacation Up North
Summers in Minnesota are the best and Grand Rapids has tons of beautiful lakes, biking and walking trails, boutique style shopping, and beautiful scenery. For more information, visit http://www.judygarlandmuseum.com or call the museum at 218- 327-9276 to learn more about the 100th Birthday Celebration. Tickets are currently on sale and filling up fast. To check out other activities, area attractions, and lodging in the Grand Rapids area visit http://www.visitgrandrapids.com. “Basically, I am still Judy Garland, a plain American girl from Grand Rapids, Minnesota, who’s had a lot of good breaks, a few tough breaks, and who loves you with all her heart for your kindness in understanding that I am nothing more, nothing less.”