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A sweet fundraiser for Lyric’s 'Wizard of Oz'

Smiling kids make and pose with lollypops they made in a candy shop.
Lyric Center for the Arts
Sam Canelake (back left) and Dennis Matson (back right) show off the lollipop work of Sawyer, Orion, Olliver, Blakely, Sefira and Elanor at Canelake’s Candies.

VIRGINIA — Canelake’s Candies, Minnesota’s oldest candy store, assisted in fundraising for the upcoming Lyric Youth Arts Theatre Education production of The Wizard of Oz: Youth Edition, based on the 1939 Judy Garland film.

Storefront of MN's oldest candy store in downtown Virginia, touting homemade candies.
Lorie Shaull
Canelake's Candies is the oldest candy store in the state of Minnesota, located in downtown Virginia since 1904.

During the weekend of Oct. 19-22, the show’s cast members handmade and packaged 750 lollipops, featuring two flavors: Emerald City Green Apple and Over the Rainbow Tutti Fruiti. The lollipops were packaged with a commemorative 2023 Lyric Lollipop Guild yellow brick and sold as Yellow Brick Bouquets. Printed on the yellow bricks themselves is a unique Oz logo created by Vermilion Country School senior Elliot Koschak.

Yellow Brick Bouquets are for sale until they run out. Each bouquet is $15, if purchased from an Oz participant, or $17 at All funds raised will go directly to assist in the costs of production.

"We just loved having them, they were really successful in getting great huge batches of lollipops out.”
Pamela Canelake-Mattson of Canelake's Candies

We recently spoke with the show’s director Paul Gregersen, as well as Pamela Canelake-Mattson of Canelake’s Candies and 10-year-old Kaia Juntune, who plays Glinda the Good Witch.

Children pose with a wooden sign painted with a Wizard of Oz motif.
Lyric Center for the Arts
Cast members of the Lyric Center for the Arts' 2023 "Wizard of Oz" production pose at the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids.

Kaia told us about the lollipop-making process.

“So first they pull out some candy and they cut it off and then they roll the candy,” she explained. “And then when you swirl the candy around and then you push a stick through it and then you squish it really hard to make sure the light pops are as big as possible.”

Canelake’s Candies began in 1904 during the boom of the Iron Range. When asked how it was working with the kids, Canelake-Mattson said, "We just loved having them, they were really successful in getting great huge batches of lollipops out.”

In the midst of a busy rehearsal and candy-making schedule, the cast and crew traveled to Grand Rapids to visit the Judy Garland Museum, made possible by a generous scholarship from the museum.

Gregersen said, “It was so fun to watch the kids go through the museum and look at the exhibits and things and you could hear each kid go, ‘Oh, That's the person I play!’”

Wizard of Oz: Youth Edition features Marissa Strawser as Dorothy Gale, Blakely Chopp as Miss Gulch/the Wicked Witch of the West, Orion Evenson as Hunk/the Scarecrow, Parker Feldt as Hickory/Tinman, Stella Svatos as Zeke/Cowardly Lion, Ariah Peyla as Toto, Aubrey Anderson as Aunt Em, Evelyn Alexander as Uncle Henry, Kaia Juntune as Glinda, and Sawyer Feldt as Professor Marvel/the Wizard. Numerous other participants act as Munchkins, Winkie guards, flying monkeys and more.

Performances are Friday through Sunday, Nov. 10-12, at the Eveleth City Auditorium. Advanced tickets are available at The shows are expected to sell out.

The production is sponsored by Canelake’s Candies, Northern Communities Credit Union, Rachel’s Thrift Store, The Minnesota Discovery Center and Hometown Focus.

The Laurentian Arts and Culture Alliance (Lyric Center for the Arts) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with the mission of providing arts and education opportunities to people of all ages across the Iron Range.

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