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Steve Call: Mansfield to be site of Shawshank Redemption events

“Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things,” wrote Andy Dufresne, played by Tim Robbins, in the cult-favorite film “The Shawshank Redemption.”

In his letter to Red, played by Morgan Freeman, Dufresne punctuated that sentiment, writing, “And no good thing ever dies.”

The quote is boldly exemplified by fan love for the cable TV movie fixture, which IMDB lists as the No. 1 movie of all time.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of “The Shawshank Redemption,” which generations of movie buffs have adored since its 1994 release. It was shot in its entirety in and around Mansfield. This Aug. 16-18, travelers are encouraged to join cast members and other Shawshank die-hards in Mansfield to immerse themselves in the film’s iconic characters, sets and history.

Many actors from the film will be in attendance too, offering visitors the chance to meet their favorite Shawshank characters in person. To date, Bob Gunton (Warden Norton), William Sadler (Heywood), Mark Rolston (Bogs), Frank Medrano (Fat Ass), Alfonso Freeman (Red’s Mugshot and a Fresh Fish Guy), Scott Mann (Glenn Quentin), Renee Blaine (Linda Dufresne) and Claire Slemmer (Bank Teller) will be on hand to meet fans.

Additional guests, events and features are being added as details are finalized and travelers are encouraged to book travel now but follow @ShawshankTrail social media for updates.

“The Shawshank Redemption” anniversary will be celebrated with more than a dozen original film sites in and around Mansfield hosting tours and events throughout the entire weekend.

First on everyone’s list will be the Ohio State Reformatory, which starred in the movie as Shawshank State Prison.

On the Hollywood Prison Tour, guests will go everywhere from inside Warden Norton’s office to Andy’s escape tunnel — and all points in between.

Visitors are invited to travel the full, self-guided Shawshank Trail driving tour as they visit even more Shawshank filming sites. This list includes the current business and its movie counterpart.

The tour include the Bissman Building (Brewer Hotel and Portland Daily Bugle), Renaissance Theatre (premiere of Shawshank Redemption), the Shawshank Oak Tree Field (While the tree was toppled by high winds in 2016, its pastoral location remains.), Pugh Cabin at Malabar Farm (Opening scene), Crosby Advisory Group LLC (Maine National Bank), Revivals 2 Thrift Store (Trailways Bus Station), Wyandot County Courthouse (Andy’s trial), Shawshank Woodshop (prison workshop), Carrousel Antiques (pawn shop window), Snyder and Hagerman Roads in Butler (road to Buxton) Red’s bus ride on Route 95 in Butler (bus to Fort Hancock, Texas), Brooks’ Bench (waiting for Jake) and the Market (Food-Way).

On Friday night, Aug. 16, the film will be shown at the historic Renaissance Theatre, where it premiered in 1994.

On Saturday afternoon, actors will be available for autographs at the Ohio State Reformatory, followed by the exclusive Shawshank Reception cocktail party. The fifth annual Shawshank Hustle 7K family fun race also takes place on Saturday.

This race features a route with filming sites, T-shirt, custom medal, food, music and more. Registration for the race is open today. Some events will require tickets, and special anniversary souvenirs will be available for purchase to commemorate the exciting anniversary.

One of my Shawshank dining faves is the Buckeye Express Diner in Bellville. The atmosphere is very distinctive as you are literally eating inside of a train car with an Ohio State Buckeyes theme.

The burgers are pretty good and the fries are very good with a fresh cut taste. The big eater in your crew can tackle Locomotive Buckeye Pounder. This baby includes a whole pound of beef, four pieces of bacon, four pieces of cheese, lettuce, tomato and onion served on Vienna bread. It’s a monster!

Another munch down stop is Mansfield’s quirky Leaning Tower of Pizza. Mansfield’s oldest pizza shop keeps its menu basic. This place, located at 180 Lexington Ave., sells the same pizza and subs it did when it first opened in 1957.

“Why change a good thing?” is the standard reply from the employees.

Now, it’s celebrating 60 years in business with a parking lot party in mid-August.

After I pick up a pizza or a sub at the Tower, I head over to the Phoenix Brewery, Mansfield’s only brewery and taproom. The Phoenix Brewing Company was founded by local beer enthusiasts looking to bring a craft beer revival to Mansfield. Located near the original pre-prohibition brewery district in the restored former Schroer Funeral and Mortuary Home, the Phoenix took flight in April 2014.

The partners have combined their love of craft beer to create an authentic pub experience filled with quality craft beer and live music. The taproom features 16 taps, including six Phoenix flagship beers and rotating seasonal and high gravity beers. They are also host to other Ohio craft brews, Ohio ciders, a selection of fine wines from local winery Cypress Hill and spirits from Ohio distilleries.

A destination unlike any other, Mansfield and Richland County are home to a wealth of unusual travel adventures and experiences, such as visiting the working farm where Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall were married, Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Kingwood Center Gardens, BibleWalk, breathtaking scenery, rural and hometown experiences. Hiking, biking, golf, cross-country and downhill skiing, bird watching and loads of other outdoor adventures attract travelers of all ages. Complete visitor information is available at DestinationMansfield.com or 800-642-8282.

Remember to shop and dine local! Here’s why. When you support a local business, you’re also supporting your town, city, and neighborhood. Business pay sales taxes to the city and county the business is located in. Stray to a big box business elsewhere and that money isn’t benefiting your community at all. Plus, that tax money is used to support public schools, parks, roads, and sidewalks, as well as fund public service workers, like firefighters.

What’s more, according to Civic Economics, “on average, 48 percent of each purchase at local independent businesses is recirculated locally, compared to less than 14 percent of purchases at chain stores.”

Got travel? Email Steve Call at the travelprofessor@gmail.com or dial 740-550-9540