By Regina Willkie, Marketing Manager, Astoria Warrenton Area Chamber of Commerce
The Goonies 30th Anniversary Celebration was held in Astoria, Oregon, from June 4 to 7, 2015—just a short two weeks ago as of this writing. We enjoyed a successful event overall, bringing a nice economic boost to our community to kick-off the summer season. This is our third anniversary celebration to host, starting in 2005 with the 20th. Attendees come from all across the U.S. and Canada, and we had a representative from every continent except for Antarctica at this year’s celebration. We estimate that 12,000 people participated in some way during the weekend.
The celebration took place at several venues in Astoria and even Cannon Beach, 30 miles away, where some of the movie’s scenes were also filmed. Activities ranged from behind-the-scenes presentations about the filming both from locals and Hollywood guests, a Truffle Shuffle 5K fun run on the beach, themed musical performances, an outdoor film screening on the high school football field seen in the film (which will be torn down in the near future), and bus tours to see the town’s many filming sites—from not only The Goonies, but Kindergarten Cop, Short Circuit and others.
This community effort relied on volunteers filling more than 600 shifts in a variety of roles and venues. The event took over the historic Astoria Armory as a headquarters (known as The Goondocks) where attendees could pick up tickets, official event merchandise and browse the 80s Con, a gathering of vendors with items reminiscent of the ‘80s and modern-day pop culture. The remaining 30th Anniversary Goonies products, including T-shirts for the whole family, drinkware and magnets, are available on our website store at www.OldOregon.com. Be sure to pick up your Goonies Gordo, the licensed collectible plush of Chunk and Sloth launched from the celebration.
The spirit of collaboration was evident throughout the weekend as the Astoria Warrenton Area Chamber of Commerce partnered with several organizations as sponsors or activity hosts for the celebration. One such sponsorship came from Geocaching, based in Seattle, who took on the treasure hunt aspect of the event and brought it to the “next level” by creating an interactive, digital experience for attendees. This was a great way for visitors to explore the community, families to work together to solve the puzzles, and residents to join in on the fun by experiencing their home in a new way. Not only did they provide this new digital platform for the “One-Eyed Willy Treasure Hunt,” but they brought in an army of volunteers to help staff that event. KOA (located in Warrenton) was the first sponsor to sign up and supported the event throughout the year with two senior staff members on the event’s planning committee providing expert guidance. They also donated lodging to a few promotional giveaways, as well as to volunteers coming to the event from out of the area. To round out the three major event sponsors, Dark Horse Comics (based in Milwaukie, Oregon) joined the team by lending their design skills to the event’s promotions and publicity work, including layout and design of the souvenir program.
As for the main objective of this milestone anniversary—we nailed it! The Goonies events are not held to fund the Chamber’s operations, but to bring awareness to our region as a worthy travel destination, while leveraging the love of this cult-classic film. We not only attracted thousands of people to town for the weekend, we garnered international attention through social and traditional media. We have tracked more than 80 print/online stories and 125 broadcast (TV/radio) stories that, combined, reached more than 395 million people. We’ve heard from many area businesses that they had record sales that weekend, too.
Our post-Goonies 30th goals are taking advantage of the wave of attention for our area around this film-tourism phenomenon and converting it into year-round tourism, encouraging visits throughout all four seasons. Much of this is happening naturally, with many visitors at the Goonies events explaining that they’ve made it an annual (or more frequent) tradition to come to the Astoria-Warrenton area. We continue to face the challenge of the popular film site of “the Goonies house” being in a dead-end, small neighborhood and are working to shift the focus away from being at the house to other more accessible locations, like viewing it from a distance and visiting the Oregon Film Museum as the must-see experience for film-related visits to our area.
For more information, visit www.oldoregon.com.