Saturday, May 14, 2011

Follow the Yellow Brick Road to Oz-Stravaganza

Back in January, we got the chance to do some commercial work for the Six Flags Great Escape Indoor Water Park.  There we met Jim, Lorrell and Loriana Walter who had traveled from Central New York to be in the commercial as well.  Lorrell was the pageant coordinator for the first ever Miss Oz-Stravaganza beauty pageant and invited us to be judges.  Fast forward four months later and we found ourselves on another adventure!

The Miss Oz-Stravaganza pageant is held in the town of Chittenango, New York.   It's about two hours from Albany and is the birthplace of author L. Frank Baum...remember him?  (He wrote The Wizard of Oz in case you forgot)

It's also the home town of Heather's cousin Kari's husband Mikey!  Small world right?  Kari and Mikey met while she was a flight attendant and he was a pilot for Continental Express.  They actually lived in North Syracuse for a little while before moving to sunny Florida...and after spending our first winter up here, we can't imagine why??

The pageant was actually held at Mikey's high school, so we had a great time looking for his senior picture composite...but no such luck.  The high school was really nice and seemed pretty new from the part we saw.

We made up a five person judging team that graded girls ages three to 16 in casual wear, formal wear, photography and interview.  Brett swears he always enjoys being the token male judge!

This pageant had a couple of different awards that we've never seen before; besides beauty, contestants also competed for the the Scarecrow Award for Academic Excellence, the Dorthy Award for Community Spirit, the Tin Man Award for Kindness and the Cowardly Lion Award for Bravery.  Fortunately, the contestants were all students from the Chittenango School District and their teachers voted on that!  There were also some beautiful crowns that the kids on Toddlers & Tiaras would be jealous of!

After the pageant wrapped up, we headed off to see the sights of central New York.  We were told that we couldn't miss seeing Chittenango Falls, which turned out to be pretty cool!  The falls are 167 feet tall and feature cascades of water.

Chittenango Falls
The Chittenango Falls park is unique for more reasons than just the falls.  The park is the only place in the world where you will find the Ovate Amber Snail!  Weird, huh?  The park is also home to the rare Hart's Tounge Fern and Roseroot, which you'll find on the gorge walls.  

Of course, it wouldn't be a hike without Heather wearing completely inappropriate footwear!  But the trip down to the bottom of the falls wearing platform wedge sandals was totally worth it.  (Have faith y'all!  After all, Heather did climb Coba on her honeymoon in flip flops.)

After we worked up a sweat, it was time for lunch!  Just a few miles from Syracuse, we had to stop at the Dinosaur BBQ.  Being far from home, it's hard to get good BBQ up here in the North, but thankfully the Dinosaur delivers.  We're lucky to have a Dinosaur close to us in Troy, but we had to try the original!

Dinosaur Bar-B-Que in Syracuse, NY
The Syracuse Dinosaur is a pretty small biker bar that serves some finger lickin' good BBQ!  The restaurant was voted America's best barbecue in May 2009 on Good Morning America!  The joint beat out 7,500 other BBQ places to win!

We definitely recommend "The Big Ass Pork Plate"
The Dinosaur was also the star of the Travel Channel's Man v. Food show!  Host Adam Richman visited the restaurant in June 2010 and scarfed down the "Pork-Sket," a sandwich with half a pound of pulled pork and beef brisket topped with melted white cheddar, pickled jalapeño peppers and coleslaw.

BBQ champ!
Brett had a Man v. Food moment when he lost a rib while eating... literally!  One of those slippery little suckers slipped out of his fingers and onto the floor mid-bite.  Implementing the five-second rule, he picked it up in a snap and went back to chomping on it!  (We decided later that the alcohol in the beer killed all the germs)  Unfortunately, his shirt took kind of a beating in the mishap...

It ain't a good day unless you have to use a little Spray 'n Wash to get the memories out!


  1. Great review of my hometown Heather! Chittenango was a great place to grow up. A lot of people snicker at the name of our towns up that way, but the word Chittenango means "Where water runs north" in the original natives language.

    Glad to see my little town out on display!

    PS, I will only reveal this little side note for your readers, but I, as did my fellow cub scouts, participated in the Oz fest as a flying monkey for many years. It's no wonder that became my profession.

    Great review!

  2. Thanks Mikey! It was really beautiful and I'm so glad we got to see where you're from!