Sunday, July 4, 2010

Summer Camp

As I previously opined, I think every small town in America has its own claim to fame. "Blobfest" is the event that has put little Phoenixville PA on the map. For those of you unfamiliar with cult classic films, Blobfest celebrates everything associated with the 1950's camp classic movie The Blob.

The Blob was filmed in Phoenixville in 1958. It starred a then-unknown Steve McQueen in his theatrical debut as a teenager who saves his town from a destructive jelly-like alien blob that eats all things in its path. Along the way the Blob rolls through a grocery store, movie theater, and a diner before Steve's character freezes it with the contents of a fire extinguisher and saves the day. (Hey, it's a cult classic, not an Oscar classic!).

For those who are unfamiliar with The Blob, and that may be many of you, I guarantee you have probably seen a snippet of the most famous scene: the patrons of the Colonial Theatre running out of the movie palace closely followed by the gooey red Blob oozing through the doors. If you've seen the much more popular movie Grease, you've coincidentally viewed this Blob scene - it is playing at the drive-in movie that the characters Sandy and Danny attend.

The actual Colonial Theatre, highlighted prominently in the film, was restored about 10 years ago and is the site of all things related to Blobfest. The festivities start at the Colonial on Friday night, July 9th at a sold-out event, featuring, among other things, an appearance by Wes Shank, caretaker of the original Blob prop from the movie. I am not making this up. Mr. Shank, a movie memorabilia buff, purchased the prop in 1965 and has managed to make a part-time career out of this bit of movie trivia. He will, of course, be bringing the actual Blob with him to Blobfest.

Later on Friday night at the Colonial is the traditional reenactment of the "running out ofthe movie theatre" scene. This involves about 600 fans who pack the theater and then stream out the doors, recreating the most recognizable image from the movie. Finally, devotees head across the street to the annual BlobBall, which includes prizes for the best 50's costumes and best dancers.

Saturday features an all day street fair, with music, food and classic cars parked on Bridge Street in front of the Colonial Theatre. At noon a fire extinguisher parade will take place, in homage to Steve McQueen's character who subdues the Blob at the end of the movie with a fire extinguisher. And of course, the centerpiece of the festival is the screenings of The Blob which take place at 4 different times on Saturday and Sunday.

Locals and sci-fi fans have grown to love Blobfest - each year attendance increases and this year the local Marriott hotel is offering Blobfest discounts on rooms for out-of-towners. Evidently, Blobfest is the perfect diversion during summer in a small town - a zany, campy weekend of vintage fun.


  1. You made me laugh again, WOS! I wonder how you know about Blobfest - do you live close by, or have you been among the fans running out of the theatre?

  2. Yet another laugh-out-loud post from the pen of WOS! Phoenixville is clearly a happening place. Who knew? I was recently reminded of this classic film when a blob-like form emerged from the skimmer of our pool. Courtesy of my memory of The Blob, I had an immediate image of it taking over the pool, the house, and beyond. Fortunately, our own Steven McQueen came to the rescue, though the rescuing implements in this case were a rag and a vacuum cleaner.

  3. CA - I live just outside Phoenixville and I have done some work with the Colonial, but by now the festival garners lots of local attention and is usually featured on the local Philly news that night (you know, the crazy footage over the rolling credits).

    Phoenixville is also the site of the Firebird Festival, so we have both summer and winter quirky goings-on.

    Next big event for the Colonial is the Bacon Brothers benefit concert - perhaps that will merit a review too. Glad you enjoyed my campy piece.


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