From the beginning the Winkie Con has mixed serious research with a healthy dose of fun and fellowship. One moment people are discussing Baum bibliography and the next moment they're rushing to get into their Ozzy costumes! Whether you're strictly a "book person" or you prefer Wicked or The Wiz, whether you discovered Oz through the Judy Garland film or through Disney's Return to Oz, everyone is welcome at the Winkie Con!
The West Coast Oz Convention was founded in 1964 by four southern Californians: Blake Maxam, Judy Pike, C. Warren Hollister, and Peter Hanff, as a west coast gathering of members of the International Wizard of Oz Club. That first convention was held at the home of nineteen-year-old Peter Hanff, It was a one-day affair, but proved very popular, with more than eighty registrants showing up from not just the west coast, but from across the USA. Eventually the West Coast Oz Convention would expand beyond the USA and the Oz Club to become a truly international convention.
For the first seven years we held single-day cons - but in 1971 the group was aching to expand and we held our first weekend-long event, now called The Winkie Convention, at the Cambria Pines Lodge, in Cambria, California, where we enjoyed increasingly elaborate Oz costume contests, screening of historic and more recent Oz film footage, and rich and varied Oz auctions, as well as the new tradition of the Winkie Treasure Hunt!
In 1975 the convention moved to the beautiful Wawona Hotel in California's Yosemite National Park - where we met annually through 1983. The Winkie Con has always held a strong connection to nature and the outdoors - indeed a sense of escaping the real world for a few days has been a major component of the Winkie Con.
Eloise Jarvis McGraw & Lauren Lynn McGraw Wagner - Authors of Merry Go Round in Oz, The Forbidden Fountain of Oz,
and The Rundelstone of Oz
Ozma Baum Mantele, Gita Dorothy Morena, and Robert Baum - Descendants of L. Frank Baum
Henry Littlefield - Author of A Parable on Populism
Aljean Harmetz - Author of The Making of the Wizard of Oz
Dick Martin - Oz book Illustrator
Eric Shanower - Cartoonist and Oz illustrator
John Fricke - Historian of the MGM film and Judy Garland
Michael Patrick Hearn - Author of The Annotated Wizard of Oz
Katherine Rogers, Kathleen Krull,and Angelica Carpenter - Biographers of L. Frank Baum
Margaret Pellegrini, Clarence Swensen, and Priscilla Montgomery - Munchkin actors from the 1939 MGM Wizard of Oz film
Michael O. Riley - Author of Oz and Beyond
Caren Marsh-Doll - Judy Garland's stand-in from the
1939 MGM Wizard of Oz film
Susan Morse - Voice actor for Dorothy in the animated
1964 Return to Oz television special
Joe Luft - son of Judy Garland
William Stout - designer of The Muppets' Wizard of Oz, illustrator of The Emerald Wand of Oz
Paul Maslansky, Emma Ridley, and Justin Case - producer and actors from the 1985 Disney Return to Oz film
Today Oz Con International welcomes Oz enthusiasts of all stripes and interests from around the world. It is the longest-running annual Oz event, and regularly features authors, actors, scholars, researchers, and Oz experts of all sorts, who share their knowledge and love of Oz with attendees.
Images from Winkie Con 50 in San Diego
In 1984 the Winkie Con moved to the Asilomar Conference Grounds at the Asilomar State Park in Pacific Grove, California. At Asilomar the traditions of elaborate Oz costume contests, the Winkie Auction, and the Winkie Treasure Hunt grew even stronger. The lovely forested grounds and cool weather seemed to energize most Winkies. But after twenty-nine years at Asilomar, the convention needed a new home.
In 2013 convention attendees voted to move to San Diego, California. In 2014 and 2015 Oz Con International was held at the Town and Country Resort and Convention Center in San Diego’s Mission Valley. Although located in the heart of the city, the detailed landscaping at the Town and Country retained a hint of the Winkie Convention’s traditional link to nature.
For 2016 and 2017 the convention for the first time left California and moved up the west coast to Portland, Oregon.