Shawshank fans descended upon Mansfield, Ashland and Upper Sandusky, Ohio for the 20-Year Reunion on August 30-September 1. The Reunion drew over 4,000 people (73% from Ohio) to the 3-day gathering from 15 states (IA, PA, IN, MI, WVA, KY, OK, CA, MD, NY, MN, TX, AZ, II, TN) and 3 countries (Japan, Australia and Ireland).
The Reunion was a celebration of the filming of The Shawshank Redemption for fans, movie extras and visitors. 14 Shawshank filming sites were available for fans to experience and all were busy the entire weekend.
The kickoff to the Reunion began Friday evening with over 700 people attending the movie showing at the Renaissance Theatre. After the movie, Shawshank celebrities Bob Gunton (Warden Norton), Jim Kisicki (Bank Manager) and Scott Mann (Golf Pro/Linda Dufresne’s lover) signed autographs for fans.
The Ohio State Reformatory’s sold out Cocktail Party Saturday evening was a particular highlight. Fans toured OSR, watched a video message from Director Frank Darabont, enjoyed music and hors d’oeuvres, and had their photos taken with celebrities.
Upper Sandusky surprised visitors Saturday when Bob Gunton walked through a door at the Shawshank Woodshop by re-enacting the scene where Andy plays the Marriage of Figaro on the public address system. Fans also had the opportunity to have lunch with Bob Gunton and have their photo taken with him. The Wyandot County Courthouse opened its doors over the weekend for fans to sit in the very courtroom where Andy was convicted.
Jim Kisicki signed autographs Saturday afternoon at the Huntington National Bank in Ashland, which was the location of the Maine National Bank in the movie. Over 200 guests enjoyed the outdoor showing of The Shawshank Redemption Sunday evening in downtown Ashland.
Scott Mann signed autographs and posed for pictures at Pugh Cabin at Malabar Farm State Park on Friday and Saturday.
Area lodging properties saw a boost from the Labor Day weekend event. Creating opportunities during “off-peak” times is a win-win for the area and Labor Day is not traditionally a busy time in the area so this was a perfect fit.
In collaboration with Ashland University, Dr. Maura Grady (Assistant English Professor) and Dr. Robby Roberson (Assistant Professor Hospitality Management), had 25 of their students on hand to survey fans throughout the weekend as a project for their fan culture class. They found the common element of interest among fans was seeing the actual sites, buying Shawshank-themed merchandise, and meeting celebrities.
The event (and all partner communities) scored big as stories about the reunion hit far and wide. The CVB with partner PR firm Weirick Communications, sent out the message that generated articles nationally and internationally online, on television, radio and in print. To date, PR efforts have resulted in 277 articles worth an equivalent of $12,913,491 in ad value.
Keep checking www.ShawshankTrail.com as plans are unveiled to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the release of the movie in 2014. For additional information, contact Jodie Snavely at the Mansfield/Richland County CVB at 419-525-1300, ext. 32.