Most days of the year, Astoria’s a sleepy coastal town. The population hovers around 10,000. But over the weekend, representatives at the Chamber of Commerce say that number more than doubled, as somewhere between 10,000 and 20,000 visitors made the trip to celebrate the 1980s cult classic, “The Goonies.”
Friday the streets were abuzz with tourists in strange clothing – calf-length canvas jackets covered in Boy Scout patches, black berets jerked low over the forehead, and more Hawaiian print t-shirts than you can shake a stick at. One guy in red suspenders and a Superman T-shirt rode by on a unicycle. He was wearing some kind of mutant monster mask. And carrying a set of bagpipes that spout flames? Of course.
"I'm a huge Goonies fan – that was one of the reasons I moved to Oregon 10 years ago," said Brian Kidd, Portland's beloved Unipiper. He says he loves that the film didn't pander to children, instead putting kids in adult situations. Visitors to Astoria this weekend hailed from Canada, Austria, England, France and Australia.
This sort of far-flung fandom has actually been a part of the Goonies festival since the very beginning. Regina Wilkie organizes the festival for the Chamber of Commerce. The festival, she said, has been going strong since 20th anniversary celebrations in 2004. While it’s difficult to track the exact economic impact, Wilkie says it’s been substantial.
"Our ticketing and prices for attendees is really low, just to cover the cost for putting the event together," Wilkie said, "so they have that money in their pocket to go out to eat and shop in our local stores."
Wilkie says most businesses enjoy having the burst of customers coming to town.
But blowback happens. As the crowds have swollen, bringing streets and accommodations to capacity, some Astorians find the anniversaries a hassle. What's it like having to share your town with an adoring world? Take a listen, and hear how this year's celebration went.
To learn more about Astoria’s changing landscape, tune in Saturday June 20th to State of Wonder as we get to know the city’s burgeoning creative culture.