IONIA, Mich. (WLNS) — You can soon follow the yellow brick road to the 7th annual Wizard of Oz Festival in the City of Ionia.

Pre-festival activities will start Friday with Wizard of Oz characters traveling across the area to meet fans.

Individuals can expect to see familiar faces including Dorthy, the Tin-man, Scarecrow, the Cowardly Lion, and the Wicked Witch herself.

Festival Preview Meet and Greet:

1:00 – 2:00 Astera Credit Union

2:00 – 3:00 Walmart

3:15 – 3:45 PFCU – Ionia

5:30 – 6:00 Culver’s

6:30 – 7:00 El Mariachi

On Saturday at 9 a.m. festival activities will kick off in the downtown Ionia area ranging from a 5K race to an arts and crafts show and a costume contest.

Tom Millard has taken part in the festival every year as the Cowardly Lion and says it never gets old.

“I am over 70 years old and I remember as a child watching the Wizard of Oz and being enthralled and I always loved the Cowardly Lion,” Millard said. “Bert Lahr was an amazing actor that did a fabulous job with the show, and I try to mimic him.”

Millard says this is the first time the festival is being held during the fall and he expects it to be just as special.

“Historically when we’ve done this in the past a lot of families come with their children. It’s a great photo opportunity. Us characters get to give lots of hugs to a lot of wonderful children, who deeply love the characters of The Wizard of Oz.”

Tom Millard, Cowardly Lion at The WIzard of OZ Festival

Organizers say a fan favorite is watching The Wizard of Oz at the Ionia Theatre for just 25 cents. This price was the original cost to get into the movie back in 1939.

The movie will be held Saturday evening at 5:30 p.m.

To find the full schedule of festival events click here.