The small town of Brownsville, Oregon celebrated the 30th Anniversary of the classic movie “Stand By Me” on Saturday July 23, 2016.
In 1985 Brownsville was turned into a town named Castle Rock and was teaming with film crews, actors and all the excitement of the movie making process. On August 8, 1986 the movie had a limited release at 16 theaters around the country. Today, 30 years later, the fans are more passionate than ever before and yearn to visit the locations of their favorite movie and mingle with others who are just as passionate.
Our goal was to offer a reason for the fans of the movie “Stand By Me” to come from near and far to celebrate the 30th Anniversary. We estimate there were at least 3,000 visitors to our one day event on July 23rd. Not only were the fans polite and well behaved, they also spent money at most of our businesses in town.
The owners of businesses I talked to were very happy with the event. I heard of two people who want to come back and open a business here. The Brownsville Art Center shared that they have two new members because of our event. The owner of the property where the tree stands, that was used for the tree house scene, estimated that at least 600 fans visited the famous tree! We even had a near exact replica of the tree house that was in constant use for photos. Food vendors said they did well (Backyard BBQ had to close in Lebanon on Sunday because they ran out of food and had to use Sunday’s supply at our event). There were 128 participants at the 5K Walk/Run, which was amazing for a first time event. We had 31 vintage trailers and 65 cars at the Cruise In, including a handful of cars used in the film! There were approximately 1,000 fans watching the movie in the park that night.
There is no other large scale event to honor the movie’s release that we know of. Because the focus of the fans was on Brownsville, where it was filmed, they were coming whether we had an event or not. Our plan was to create an event that filled the fans needs and introduce them to what our community and outlying area has to offer while they were here. We had people from around the world and across the United States fly in just for this event! Many of the fans who came for the first time this year said they will come back, and will tell their friends to visit.
The closest hotel was completely booked that weekend, and we heard others in the area were as well. Our AirBnbs were booked since last year for this event! Some of the fans shared photos of themselves visiting other locations near us in the days before and after the event. The Geocaching Challenge was a success with about 275 people participating, representing about 55 different cities in and out of our state (only one was signed up from Brownsville!). They too talked about coming back to do other geocaches that they found while here. The Linn County Historical Museum reported that they quit counting guests at 140 on that day. The Pioneer Picture Gallery was very busy. The Living Rock Studio said they have never had so many people tour their site in one day. I have been stopped on the street by business owners and citizens of the area who thought this was a huge success for our community and congratulated our team for a job well done. If the fans were happy, our citizens were happy, and our vendors and local businesses were happy, I would say the event was a success!
Thank you to the Oregon Film Office for sponsoring the movie! We showed some fan videos and Wil Wheaton’s recorded message before the movie Stand By Me.
Comments taken from Stand By Me Day July 23rd Facebook page:
“It was a fun day! Really enjoyed the vibe. People from all over were walking around Brownsville, and you could feel the good mood! Already looking forward to next year!”
“I thoroughly enjoyed all that Brownsville had to offer on Saturday. It truly was a magical event. From the tour guides being overly gracious in showing the sites of the town, to the duo of ladies passionately playing “Stand by Me” on their flutes on the staircase, the whole town put their heart into creating a memorable experience for complete strangers. And it was all FREE!!!”
“We had such a blast! Thank you for putting together this fun celebration for all of us SBM lovers!”
“If you didn’t enjoy yourself, something is wrong. Thank you Linda and all behind the scenes helpers.”
“Without you and your many volunteers and sponsors, this special celebration wouldn’t have been possible. Again, thank you.”
“Wow!!! Whoever put the event together this weekend. You are amazing, the turn out was great and everyone seems to be having a great time!!”
“We had such a great time being a vendor at this special event! My husband and I just caught the ending of it on TV this evening and had to watch it!”
“I loved spending the day in Brownsville. My family moved to California that summer after they filmed. I was 16, and went from CLHS to a school with over 1500 students. Talk about culture shock! Thanks for putting on a fantastic event Brownsville!”
“We’re moving to Brownsville this coming weekend and can’t wait to become active in our new community. This town is our dream come true and we’re so excited!”
“Thank you to Linda and crew for the signs next to the items/ places used in the movie with the scene from the movie.”
“You do a really, really wonderful job. This was the first year I attended Stand By Me Day, and I went on my own, but it felt like I was there with a bunch of friends celebrating a really cool movie.”
Facebook Statistics –
July 21 to 27
158 new people “Liked” my page in that time span
39,906 saw the page or posts one way or another (through a friends post or page etc.)
20,136 post engagements (liked, remarks, shared etc.)
10,681 people saw at least 3 seconds of videos on my page
Wil’s video had 13.K views
The photo of Wil’s wife & son in Brownsville had 8.1K views
A video with a couple dancing to Johnny Limbo had 2.9K views
The pie eating contest with the Mayor, City Administrator & Fire Chief had 2.6K views
A photo of the very same brown truck parked where it was in the movie had 1.8K views
Comments from Geocachers
“We had such a great time walking around beautiful Brownsville. It was fun caching during the 30th anniversary.”
“So much fun in one town today! I really appreciated the town’s hospitality and all the free fun. Of course we loved earning the coin and we did a lot of extra stuff too. We ended up on the last guided tour of the day and it was a rowdy good time. It was great to geek out on movie stuff and geocaching rolled into one. Thanks for everything!”
“What a great day! Although, unbelievably so, I have never seen this movie, which soon will be rectified, we had so much fun on this challenge today. So glad to be able to grab all the caches, learn all the trivia from the movie, earning the coin, and then taking a guided tour at the end of the day. Thank you for all your hospitality! Free parking, free tours, friendly townsfolk, and great food. You rock!”