Main Street in Marceline served as the model for many of Walt Disney’s film locales and theme parks, and today you can walk in his footsteps in the charming town during its Hometown Toonfest.

Marceline hosts Walt Disney’s Hometown Toonfest every September to celebrate Walt’s boyhood in this rural community that influenced his work so much. Cartoonists, fans, families, scholars and Disney enthusiasts come to Marceline for a day of fun. Festivities include a parade, live music, food, crafts, pie-eating contests and an international exhibition of original cartoons. Plus, the Toonfest stage venues will present vignettes of Walt’s life in Marceline.

Walter Elias Disney (1901-1966) was an American animator, film producer and entrepreneur. A pioneer of the American animation industry, he introduced several developments in the production of cartoons.

Other festival attractions vary. Recently the Toonfest featured a cartoon symposium in the historic Uptown Theater. In 2003 the headline speaker was Mort Walker, whose Beetle Bailey comic strip appears in 1,800 newspapers worldwide. Walker displayed his work and talked about life as a cartoonist. Other guests included Bill Amend, creator of the comic strip Fox Trot. The symposium regularly features speakers with ties to Disney.

Festival goers can also participate in the Rural Olympics. Farm chores that Walt endured as a child have found new life as games for the whole family.

While in Marceline, visit the Walt Disney Hometown Museum, located in the former Santa Fe Depot. The museum features artifacts and exhibits from Walt’s life in Marceline and his remarkable career. In addition, more than 20 other Disney related sites can be visited throughout the region, including the Disney farm and the Walt Disney Dreaming Tree.

For more details about this annual festival, call 660-376-9258.

The boyhood home of Walt Disney is at 100 West Broadway Street in Marceline, MO. Although born in Chicago, this the home where Disney first began to sketch his cartoon characters and dream the dreams that eventually created some of the world’s most lovable icons. His family moved to Marceline when he was four years old.