PHOENIXVILLE — The Colonial Theatre’s annual BlobFest brings thousands of visitors to Phoenixville for a weekend of science fiction and screenings of the 1958 cult classic.
Over the years, many borough business owners have gotten into the spirit of the event — decorating their storefronts and offering BlobFest specials.
Jessica Capistrant, director of the Phoenixville Regional Chamber of Commerce, says the event is good for area businesses.
“We have more than 10,000 people that circle through Phoenixville during BlobFest.” Capistrant said. “Any time there are that many people in a two-block radius, even if they don’t buy something at that time, they are becoming aware of the borough.”
Capistrant added that people might come back to Phoenixville to explore on a different weekend.
Colonial Theatre Executive Director Mary Foote said an effort has been made by organizers to involve businesses in the fun.
“The big thing we did that helped to build a relationship is the window/façade contest,” she said. “We talk with area business-owners and get a commitment from them to decorate — to tie in to ‘The Blob,’ or the year’s theme — this year it’s ‘Clash of the Kaiju.’”
Foote said this year, 10 businesses signed up to decorate, but more actually decorated. The winner receives one-year of screen advertising at the Colonial. Second place is six-months of screen advertising and everyone that participates in the contest receives one-month of screen advertising.
Foote added that last year, they initiated a fan favorite, allowing businesses to collect ballots from their customers.
The Liberty Carriage House is a new business in the borough. Owner Patrice Callahan opened the shop in March, so this is her first BlobFest.
“I’m thrilled and excited. I have a vintage clothing store, so the event fits well with the store,” Callahan said.
Callahan got right in to the spirit of the event, and has decorated her store with a giant Godzilla — in honor of daughter Shey’s tenth birthday. Callahan said Shey watches old Godzilla movies, and for her birthday wanted to go to BlobFest.
“I did this (decorated) for two reasons — to celebrate my daughter’s birthday and to promote the business,” she added.
Foote said when BlobFest started 15 years ago, it started small.
“It didn’t have the impact at first,” she said. “Then, as it grew, it began to impact the businesses more; with several now saying it is one of the biggest weekends for them.”
Gail Warner owns Bridge Street Chocolates, 158 Bridge St. This year is the fourth BlobFest she has seen. In the spirit of the event, Warner creates a special Blob chocolate every year. She added that a stop at her shop to pick up her creation is part of their annual BlobFest experience for many visitors.
“People come from all over the county to this event,” she said. “We tie it in with the theme and create something unique to bring people into the shop.”
And for Warner, while the weekend is busy for her, she also likes to attend the annual “run-out” re-enactment at the theater. “It’s quite an experience,” she said.
Several area restaurants also get into the spirit, with special drinks or food offerings. The Fenix Bar, 193 Bridge St., has a special Blob-tini and is offering Margarita Blob-bread on its menu.
“Phoenixville is a great little town,” said Fenix General Manager Ryan Norris. “It’s wonderful how so small a street can bring out so many people. When you see how many people line up outside the theater for the re-enactment, it’s great.”
Norris said the Fenix Bar has on display a copy of a flipbook that was created. It includes shots from the original movie on one side and on the other are pictures from the 2009 re-enactment. He added that the right display can make a difference.
“When people line up for the run-out, they want to get the best viewing spot. They are seeing the displays, and if someone has the right display, the customer will come back,” he added.
Iron Hill Brewery, 130 East Bridge St., is releasing its Cherry Blob, a Belgian-styled triple brewed with tart Michigan Montmorency cherries, along with two menu options: a TV dinner and a Blob tasting menu.
“Every year, Blob fans take over the town of Phoenixville and we’re happy to be a part of the fun, creating retro dishes and brewing a special Blob beer as part of the celebration,” said Head Brewer Tim Stumpf. “This year’s Cherry Blob is a terrific summer beer and it goes perfectly with our fun, irreverent menu additions, all inspired by the classic film.”
Frank LoPresti, owner of Franco Ristorante, 226 Bridge St., has supported the event since the beginning. LoPresti said that in the early years, he gave away free Italian Water Ice during the event, but stopped that practice several years ago. He continues to support the event by providing food for volunteers. Franco Ristorante serves Blob-tinis and Blob-oli during the weekend.
But LoPresti’s BlobFest claim to fame is his annual display of the Blob.
“I keep the blob locked up in a fridge in the basement, and every year we put it outside,” he said. “We feed it, and it grows right before your eyes.”
LoPresti said he puts his Blob outside on Saturday of BlobFest, and it eventually overflows the large container it’s in.
“Everyone likes to take pictures with it, and sometimes they take little pieces of it home with them,” he added.
BlobFest begins Friday at 7 p.m., and continues Saturday with a street fair and screenings of “The Blob” and several B-movie kaiju classics, as well as other events. BlobFest concludes Sunday with another screening of “The Blob.”