BlobFest oozes into Phoenixville (full story)

Photo by Barry Taglieber/ Blob caretaker Wes Shank holds up a container of the goo during BlobFest.

PHOENIXVILLE - The legend of Steve McQueen and 'The Blob' was celebrated this weekend with Phoenixville's 13th annual BlobFest.

Fifty two years after the film was released, its popularity only continues to grow and grow, much like The Blob itself. All weekend the iconic 1958 classic science-fiction movie was remembered with many different events around town.

Festivities began Friday evening at The Colonial with the stage show and Run Out, which is a re-enactment of a memorable scene in the movie, when The Blob takes over the theater and people run for their lives out of the theater, screaming into the streets.

Crowds gathered along the 100 block of Bridge Street, to watch the reenactment.

A volunteer with the BlobFest committee for six years, Janice Hartmann said, 'There aren't very many things that are filmed locally so it's really nice for people to be able to come back. Everybody knows The Blob story. Everybody has seen this movie, 'The Blob' and they all remember the running out of the theater scene when it oozes through the projection booth.'

The Run Out is a very popular event with the public.

'We sold out in early June,' said Hartmann.

Each year, there is a different theme to BlobFest, based on what the committee chooses as the second feature they show along with The Blob. This year's theme was tiki. During the stage show, which warms up the audience before the Run Out, giant beach balls bounced around the room while a steel drum band played onstage.

'It's a great family event,' Hartmann said. 'The stage show is definitely kid-oriented...very clean, very 1950s, just fun stuff, singing and dancing.'

The annual Blob Ball was another event Friday night and it was held downstairs at PJ Ryan's.

The Rivers Rockabilly Trio band has played at the Blob Ball for the last six years. The band donates a portion of their proceeds from the Blob Ball to The Colonial as a way to support and sustain it.

'I think The Blob quite simply is one of the best sci-fi movies ever,' said Stu Frederick, the singer and guitarist. 'I think a lot of other movies were born out of it. It's a hometown movie. Not many places can say they have that so they should keep celebrating that.'

The Blob committee starts planning BlobFest in October.

Executive Director of The Colonial Mary Foote said the festival not only entertains locals, but people from out of town.

'For locals, it's a great way to celebrate their town and their history,' Foote said. 'And also for people who travel, we have them from all over the country. It's this quirky part of Americana that people like to celebrate. It's different each year, so people can come every year and get a new experience.'

This year the Bongiovanni family came all the way from Fairbanks, Alaska, to enjoy BlobFest. Sisters Kathleen, Elyse and Hannah came with their parents.

'It was our mother's 60th birthday wish to come,' said Elyse. 'She saw 'The Blob' when she was eight years old. It was on her bucket list to come.'

The family read about the BlobFest in their Fairbanks newspaper and decided to come.

Festival attendees could meet special guests on the third floor of the Colonial. Wes Shank, a private collector and author, is known as the caretaker of The Blob silicone, which was the prop in the movie. He had it on display, along with other Blob memorabilia.

'I think it's exciting that they celebrate the fact that a classic '50s science fiction movie was shot here,' said Shank who purchased the prop from the film's director, Irvin 'Shorty' Yeaworth.

'The one thing I really like about the film is there's no blood and gore and violence,' Shank added. 'When The Blob attacks people, it happens off screen. It's all in your imagination. It's all in your head as to what The Blob is doing to all these people. It's great.'

Yeaworth's son, Kris Yeaworth, was also a special guest at The Colonial. Along with Blob memorabilia including photo stills from behind the scenes on the movie set, Yeaworth shared many personal anecdotes regarding the early days of 'The Blob.'

He remembers Steve McQueen staying with his family in Chester Springs during the making of the film.

Yeaworth said he feels the town has benefited from the fame of the movie.

'I'm happy the town is surviving,' he said. 'Because of the notoriety of The Blob, the theater survived. It's really been the anchor for the renaissance of the restaurants and the breweries and all of the other stuff (here in town).'

Saturday the entertainment continued with the street fair on Bridge Street.

Professor Ouch and Hotrod Scott Binder from The Roots Rockabilly Roadhouse radio show, hosted the all day street fair. They have been coming to BlobFest for five years, and play an assortment of rare tunes from the 1950's era for the crowd to enjoy.

'It's neat because The Blob is sci-fi horror history right here in our backyard,' Professor Ouch said. 'It's nice to be able to support small local towns, and American businesses. It's something you can share with the whole family. It's something that's timeless.'

Every year, classic cars line up along Bridge Street during the street fair, said Binder,

'We always hope people come out with more cars,' he said. 'We have a nice balance of vendors and cars, and all kinds of other stuff going on at BlobFest.'

Other events during the street fair included, the Fire Extinguisher Parade, the costume contest and the Olde City Side Show, which all took place on a stage set up on right in front of The Colonial. The Buzzards, a '50s music group, also performed.

Phoenix Village Art Center hosted its annual tin foil hat contest. Tom Burns, from Kennett Square, was named the winner. His creation was showcased at the center's front window.

'It's a diver's helmet style hat,' Burns said. 'It's old fashioned, a round orb shape. I kept finding lenses at a flea market, thought it'd go well with a tinfoil hat.'

Burns took two weeks to design the hat and constructed it in days.

'I really enjoy 1950's movies, and the movie ('The Blob'),' said Burns.

As always, the BlobFest is an ideal way to honor the legacy of 'The Blob' and introduce younger generations to early science fiction and the role Phoenixville played in the history of movie making.

Visit our photo gallery for BlobFest scenes.

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