Hello campers! As I am sitting her in my shack deep in the woods of South Jersey I am still recovering from a fantastic 3 days I spent in Blairstown, NJ to celebrate all the Friday the 13th events that happened from 9/12/19-9/14/19. Before I discuss my experiences in town, I want to give a BIG THANK YOU to
Jeanette Iurato and her great team of volunteers local and far who worked around the clock to give the fans of the franchise a lifetime of memories.
This article is going to be solely based on my experience as a fan and not so much on my time cosplaying. That being said, let’s cut right into it! (Pun intended)
The festivities started off with Jason Fest featuring Ari Lehman with special guest’s C.J. Graham, Jason Brooks and a Skype Q & A session with Victor Miller. This all took place at Hunter’s Lodge in Delaware, NJ not too far from Blairstown. To be a part of this event you had the option to purchase one of 2 tickets. A VIP ticket which was $175 and a General Admission ticket which was $125. With the VIP ticket you had 8 hours to spend time at the event (4p-midnight), access to Machete Mall, an all you can eat buffet that consisted of beef kabob, veggie kabob, fries, salad, pasta and an incredible macaroni & cheese.
You also received 2 tickets that you could use for a free beer (additional alcohol was available for purchase). In addition, there was a live band that opened for Ari Lehman’s band First Jason. There was also the opportunity for a lengthy meet and greet with Ari Lehman in which he signed a Jason Fest exclusive mini poster and 2 photo op’s one of which was with a Grumman canoe like the one used in the 1980 film. Also included was a live skype interview with writer Victor Miller followed by the screening of Friday the 13th (1980). The General admission included all of this with the exception of the buffet and your arrival time was 8pm. This event was very intement. I believe a total of 50 tickets were available to purchase.
I checked into my hotel close to 4p and did not get to the event until about 5:45p. I checked in with my ticket and was given a bag that had a hockey mask in it. I was informed by the volunteer that the ticket holders were asked by Ari to wear the mask’s when his band First Jason plays. As I am walking around, I finally got to meet Alexi and Carrie who are volunteers with the museum and we met through Facebook. It was great to finally meet them and they are 2 of the sweetest people I have ever met. I saw Jeanette and she said you are going to be sitting with Vince DiSanti. I am sure my campers have heard of him but just in case you have not, he is the creator, writer and star (he played Ghost Jason) in the hit fan film Never Hike Alone. I said to myself, this is going to be a great night. I had actually rewatched Never Hike Alone two nights prior. When I sat down Vince introduced himself and we started talking. I told him that I was a big fan of his film and that he set the standard or blue print if you will of how a fan film of any genre should be made. He thanked me for the compliment and we must have talk for close to an hour from his original inception of his film, the final cut and his future plans for the series. On our table was the hockey mask he wore in NHA!
During my conversation with Vince, dinner was ready. If you are ever in the area, please stop by and have a meal at Hunter’s Lodge. You will not regret it. My good friend Dave Brown always goes there when he is in town to either promote or shoot footage for his upcoming fan film “His Name Was Jason”. He told me that a dozen clams is $4.99. You cannot get that price down where I am in South Jersey. All the food that was served was great especially the macaroni & cheese. I asked for the recipe but sadly it’s a guarded secret.
After dinner, I introduced myself to Jason Brooks. He likes my page and we interact from time to time on either my page or his JasonBrooksActor page on Facebook. He was kind enough to take a photo with me. We talked for a few minutes in regards to his upcoming fan film Friday the 13th Vengeance. He told me that it has been a whirlwind of an experience attending many conventions and the great interactions he has had with the Friday fans.
I decided to check out Machete Mall which featured local artist from the area. One artist that caught my eye was Jeneen West of Lipstick Legion. She makes really good china hocks and she also had hocks that are official from the licensed mold. In addition she had a really kick ass wreath with a mask, machete and Crystal Lake sign.
As I walked back to my table, Ari was ready to do photo ops with the guests. The first photo was a standing photo with a backdrop. The second photo was the recreation of the final scene in the canoe. You were told to look afraid in which I think I pulled it off. After the photos were taken, I started talking with a guest who was dressed head to toe in a 1957 Camp Crystal Lake staff uniform. He had driven all the way from Canada to attend the event. This was his first time out of Canada and his first time meeting Friday the 13th alumni. I told him what a great way to participate in your first Friday gathering. In addition to attending Jason Fest, he was also taking part in the events scheduled for the 13th in town and was also attending the Crystal Lake tour on the 14th.
During the event, guests were selected for prizes and I won a poster that had the hockey mask that had sayings from the movies that shaped the mask. Around this time, a local band opened for First Jason and while they played I took the time to sit back with another beer and just take everything in.
Jeanette started walking around with cards and asked the guests to ask a question or give a thank you for the Victor Miller Q & A. You were told not to write anything pertaining to the current lawsuit that is going on between Victor Miller and Sean Cunningham. (For further information on the lawsuit, look for the article that Larry Zerner wrote that is in layman’s terms for you to understand.) I had so many questions in my mind, it was hard to just pick one. I finally chose “From your first draft to the final draft, how much of the story stayed the same”?) The answer was the Officer Dorf scene. He did not write that scene. The Q & A lasted about 20 minutes. Victor introduced his dogs to the audience prior to the interview. I have listened to him in previous interviews and he is very funny so he did not let me down. At the end of the Q & A session, CJ Graham got up and thanked Victor for writing the script because if it wasn’t for him, he would not have a job.
Prior to the Q & A session the special guest had arrived and it was none other than Tom McLoughlin. I knew he would be in town on the 13th for the Vengeance premier however I had no idea about his appearance for Jason Fest.
After the session with Victor, I went back to see Jeneen and looked over her masks again. They were all excellent which made it that much harder to choose. She sold out of the Jason Lives mask with no surprise as CJ Graham was in attendance. It came down to either a part 8 or remake. I chose the remake as it was from the official licensed mold plus it would not look great having CJ sign a Kane Hodder mask. (They like to make fun of each other) After I purchased the mask, I had Vince DiSanti and Jason Brooks sign it. When signing the mask they both were signed on the lower portion of the mask out of respect for the men who paved the way for them. Once I got their autographs, I waited in a small line to meet Tom McLoughlin. I wanted to keep it brief so I said it was an honor to meet him and out of the zombie version of Jason, his movie was my favorite. I took a picture with him and he too signed my mask.
I made my way to C.J. and out of everyone, his line was the longest. When I finally got to him, I introduced myself and said this was my second time meeting him as I met him a few years ago at Monster Mania in Cherry Hill, NJ. He thanked me for coming out. When I handed him the mask, I told him the reason why I did not have a pt. 6 mask. He said that was ok and that he was going to do something for me. He told me that when Kane Hodder signs masks, he usually signs the top center. So C.J. put a little x off to the left of the top center and said the next time you see Kane, tell him that C.J. said he can sign by the x. I told him that I definitely would. So before I close out the night I want to reflect on something. When the fan attends a convention, a standard 1 day ticket is $25.
Then you want to add on the cost of an autograph with a standard pic on your cell with an average fee of $40 (I am not adding a pro photo shoot which can be over $100 in some cases). At Jason Fest, I got 5 autographs and 6 cell phone pics. If I was at a convention I could be spending at a minimum $200. Remember the cost of the tickets were $125/175. Ari’s autograph and photos were included with the ticket sale. The other guests were there to interact with the fans and could have asked for money but I did not pay anything out of pocket!
Before Ari went on stage, he sat down to sign the special edition poster that was made for Jason Fest. I believe it’s an 11×17, maybe a little bigger. When I greeted him again, I asked him to sign it to South Jersey Jason! Ari and his band First Jason finally got on stage. All the guest were by the stage and had their hockey mask on. I have seen Ari’s music video and footage from his performances. His songs are Friday the 13th themed and he plays a keytar in the shape of a machete. If you have never heard him perform the best way for me to describe it is Punk Metal. It’s not my type of music but he puts on a hell of a show. After his band finished, we gathered under the tent to watch the original Friday the 13th. During the opening scenes, the guest’s would cheer when a location from town was on screen. By this time, it was getting cold so I went to the outdoor fire place and sat with a few guests and just relaxed. At the climax of the movie, we heard people laughing. I am not sure exactly what had happened but Ari did something when his scene came on in the movie. I left Hunters Lodge around 12:30am to go back to my motel room to get ready for Friday the 13th!
This concludes the 1st of a 3 part blog. I would like to thank the following:
Jeanette and Tony Iurato and their great team of volunteers of the Blairstown Museum
Facebook-First Jason Official
Facebook- C.J. Graham Jason VI