“Shawshank” celebration coming to Ohio filming locations

AKRON, Ohio — If you are thinking about what to do on Labor Day weekend, consider a celebration of a movie classic.

The prison drama “The Shawshank Redemption,” based on a Stephen King work and starring Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins, will mark 20 years since its theatrical premiere in 2014. But the folks in Mansfield, Ashland and Upper Sandusky, Ohio, are noting that it’s been 20 years since the movie was filmed in the area with a series of events beginning Aug. 30.

You can find a detailed rundown at www.shawshanktrail.com, which will take you to the site of the Mansfield / Richland County Convention and Visitors Bureau. You can even get a jump on the events by following the “Shawshank Trail” driving tour of movie locations now. But if you want to join other fans of the film in celebrating it, events set for the weekend include:

• Self-guided tours of the Ohio State Reformatory, which served as Shawshank State Prison in the movie, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Aug, 30 and 31 and Sept. 1.

• Wagon tours at Malabar Farm State Park to Pugh Cabin (setting of the movie’s opening scene) and past the Shawshank oak tree (seriously damaged in a 2011 storm, but part of it still standing), from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on each day.

• Self-guided tours of other locations in the film.

• A special showing of the film at 7 p.m. Aug. 30 in the Renaissance Theatre in Mansfield, replicating the 1994 premiere there.

• A cocktail reception at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 31 in the reformatory.

• Appearances by Bob Gunton, the fine character actor who played Warden Norton in the film; James Kisicki, who played the bank manager; and Scott Mann, who played the lover of Linda Dufresne.

It’s odd to think that it’s been close to 20 years since the movie appeared because it seems to have always been there. I can’t tell you when or where or how I saw it for the first time, only that I have seen it in pieces and as a whole more times than I can count.

During the recent holiday we spent some of our family time revisiting old movies, among them “The Princess Bride” and “The Wedding Singer.” In many ways, and after very many viewings, they feel as timeless as “Shawshank.” I don’t remember the first viewing of them either. After all, as we all spend more and more time watching movies at home, there’s no specific ritual of going out to a theater attached to some films that we discover and build a loving relationship with — no transcendent moment.

Instead, there is a series of smaller moments, of coming across a movie again and again. And then we look up, and years have gone by — 15 for “The Wedding Singer,” or nearly 20 for “Shawshank,” or 25-plus for “Princess Bride.”