By EARL WATT
• Daily Leader
It might not be unusual to think that a number of school tours would pass through the Land of Oz and Coronado Museum during the month of May.
And, it might not be unusual to think that there is an out-of-state visitor or two that happens by.
But to find out that in the month of May more than 2,000 visitors stopped by the Land of Oz from 31 states and six foreign countries, that just might be an eye-opener from many in Liberal who may only stop by the local tourist attraction during Ozfest.
Of those 2,000-plus visitors, only 761 were on school tours. The rest were travelers who stop in groups as small as one and up to five or six.
“We had a young man from Australia who had joined a group of storm chasers,” museum executive director Joanne Mansell said. “He knew the big tornado was in Kansas at Dorothy’s House.”
A number of visitors stop by with different backgrounds, from custom cutters to European tourists.
A Russian student from the University of Kansas and her fiancé from Canada came to the Museum during the month of May.
“When she shared with her family and friends that she would be attending college in Kansas, they told her to be certain to visit Dorothy,” Mansell said. And she did.
The draw of Dorothy’s House and the Coronado Museum provide a significant economic impact for the community with the pull factor of the Dorothy’s House and Land of Oz exhibit.
Not only do these guests shop the local gift shops, but they also eat, spend the night, purchase fuel and visit Liberal’s other retail stores.
“We never cease to be amazed at the tourists who make this their destination,” Mansell said. “We pass that on to our community. They buy gas, a lot of them stay overnight. 54 is a well-traveled road. This is a nice place to stop and have a nice meal. We do make an impact.”
In the past 25 days, visitors from Russia, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand and Sweden are just a few of the thousands that have studied the region’s history at Coronado and enjoyed a whimsical journey down the Yellow Brick Road in the Land of Oz exhibit next to Dorothy’s House.
From storm chasers to world travelers, the museum has been incorporated into the travel plans of tourists. And the schedule is heating up now that summer vacations are starting.
“We have Dorothy tour guides in the summer,” Mansell said. “Most of our tourists are here to see Dorothy and have her take them on a tour. The Dorothys are well-trained on local history as well as on the ‘Wizard of Oz.’”
Currently, the museum is looking for ways to expand its space to offer more opportunities for exhibits that will increase the draw.
But the fact remains that Dorothy has brought visitors from somewhere over the rainbow to her own back yard, right here in Liberal.