Lurch Fest: Barbour County festivities to commemorate local son Ted Cassidy |
PHILIPPI – “Did you ring the bell? “
One of Filipino’s favorite sons of yesteryear, Ted Cassidy, is at the center of a new festival, Lurch Fest, to be held in the city on Saturday. The festival commemorates Cassidy’s 20 year career as an actor and in particular his memorable portrayal of the 6ft 9in Butler Lurch in the TV series “The Addams Family”.
Although Cassidy died aged 46 in Los Angeles from complications from surgery, he is still larger than life in Barbour County.
The Barbour County Historical Museum and Philippi Main Street are teaming up to sponsor the festival, with support from the Philippi Convention and Visitors Bureau, Create Philippi and the Barbour County Arts and Humanities Council.
From noon to Black Saturday, Lurch Fest will feature live music, High Ground Brewing craft beers, food, craft vendors, bag-throwing tournaments and Mountain Man Ax Throwing. A highlight of the day will be a ceremony at 2:30 p.m. in which a life-size statue of Lurch will be unveiled and presented to the public, officials said.
“I think it will be an original event, something a little different from what we normally do,” said Jeremy Drennen, director of the city of Philippi. “We are trying to not only bring our community together, but hopefully bring people from outside the region to Philippi. “
Several special attractions will have a Philippi touch, as all of the vendors have a connection to the city, Drennen said.
The event will take place on Museum Street, with traffic control in the area to promote safety. Museum Street itself will be a draw; instead of asphalt, it features the old brick that once lined the city streets. The festival site is next to the historic Philippi Covered Bridge.
“We hope to have many more events there to showcase our bridge,” Drennen said.
Cassidy attended Philippi High School while her mother was a dorm mom at Alderson-Broaddus College. After graduating from high school, Cassidy attended West Virginia Wesleyan College in Buckhannon, according to Tammy Stemple, principal of Philippi Main Street.
“When we started talking about it between Main Street Community and Create Philippi, it sparked some interest,” Stemple said of the festival. “We’ve had a few individuals in the community who donate money, and we’ve had other community fundraising efforts and businesses who have made it a community effort to fund this.”
Stemple said the overall goal is to start making Philippi a destination.
“When you’re competing with big cities that have a lot more events and a lot more capacity to get people to come to this community, we needed something,” Stemple said.
Festival organizers were able to order a statue of Lurch from Bixby Studios in Morgantown. The studio delivered the statue to Philippi’s town hall last fall, where it has remained so far, according to Stemple. The statue will take up residence at the Barbour County Historical Museum after Lurch Fest this year.
“It happened right in the middle of the pandemic, and everything was shut down, so we had to wait until we felt safe and things opened up to have this event,” Stemple said. .
Stemple hopes to continue this festival for years to come and believes it is a way to bring people together inside and outside of Philippi.
“We wanted to see how this one plays out, and it’s a lot bigger than we initially thought,” Stemple said. “So we hope people will come out. “
This life-size Lurch was made with silicone and metal materials. Bixby Studios is owned by former Philippi resident Chad Sine and Adrian Larry, according to Karen Larry, chair of the Philippi Convention and Visitors Bureau.
“Bixby Studios has been an artist distributor to the Philippi Main Streets Art Strolls for the past few years,” said Karen Larry.
The idea for the statue, the financing and the manufacturing process started over two years ago, she added.
“Anything that many of us can do to help bring people to our area so that they can experience Philippi, we see it as positive,” said Karen Larry. “Tourism, we firmly believe, will attract people to the city. “
The museum as a whole has historical significance, she said. This festival supporting a historical figure and the museum will bridge the gap between getting people to visit the city.
“Bringing people to Philippi is important for the well-being of our community, so sponsoring an event will help,” said Karen Larry.