Jessica Cejnar Andrews / Wednesday, June 7, 2023 @ 10:43 a.m.

After Successful Forest Moon Fest, Crescent City Councilors Discuss How Next Year's Celebration Could Be A 'Revenue Generator'

Star Wars costumers visited Beachfront Park this weekend for the inaugural Forest Moon Festival. | Photos courtesy of the City of Crescent City

Despite a suggestion from Crescent City’s mayor pro tem that Del Norte County leverage the Forest Moon Festival name and “get it ourselves,” chances are a second-annual Star Wars celebration will be a regional effort.

But to make it happen, the Humboldt-Del Norte Film Commission needs more bodies and funding, Film Commissioner Cassandra Hesseltine told the Wild Rivers Outpost on Tuesday. It wouldn’t have happened this year without the individuals, organizations and communities who contributed, she said.

“We have somebody from New Zealand who couldn’t make it this year, but told us they’re buying (plane) tickets for next year,” she said. “We had people from Kentucky, Ohio, North Carolina, South Carolina — these are all attendees. We had somebody from Alameda celebrating their birthday. It was amazing how many people drove or flew to get to us. And then the costumers that were all over the place were from everywhere from Oregon to Nevada to LA, San Diego and San Francisco.”

Hesseltine said she and the plethora of individuals and organizations who put the two-county festival on will hold a debriefing Thursday.

In Del Norte County 300 to 400 people came to a screening of “Star Wars: Episode VI — Return of the Jedi” at Beachfront Park on Friday, Hesseltine said, citing an estimate from Crescent City Police Chief Richard Griffin. On Saturday, 1,000 to 1,200 people participated in Star Wars-related activities in Del Norte County, Hesseltine said, though she said she has to confirm with the Crescent City-Del Norte County Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau.

Saturday activities in Del Norte ranged from Crescent City’s “rebel training course” at Beachfront Park to an “E-wok Walk” with a Redwood National Park Ranger through Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park.

In Humboldt County, activities included a festival at Sequoia Park and its Zoo in Eureka as well as at Arts Alive! Costumers were also at the “The Moisture Farmer’s Market” in Arcata.

On Monday, Angela Greenough, whose husband is Crescent City Councilor Jason Greenough, said festival organizers gave out more than 1,000 pool noodle light sabers on Saturday. There were more than 30 volunteers at the park on Saturday and food vendors sold out.

Del Norte business owners were also excited, Angela Greenough said. There were special deals and special food, she pointed out.

“The biggest question, though, is are you going to do this next year?” Angela Greenough told councilors. “I met people from Portland, Mexico, San Diego, San Francisco, Virginia, Missouri, New Mexico and Arizona who came to this event because they saw it on Facebook. Every person I met wanted to know, ‘Are you going to do it next year?’ Even your staff are asking, ‘Are you going to do it next year?’”

Inscore, who has been part of the Del Norte County Visitors Bureau as a city representative for about six years, said while he had hopes that the Kamome Festival would be a good "shoulder season" event, it’s never going to be as marketable as Star Wars. Del Norte County needs to capitalize on that, he said, comparing Saturday’s Forest Moon Festival to Sea Cruise and the 4th of July.

Inscore said he was also asked if the festival would be held next year and called for coming up with a way to have a return on investment.

“This year was about having the event,” he said. “Now we have 12 months to start figuring out how do we capitalize on that and turn it into a revenue generator for our community and other businesses.”

Inscore urged community members to put Del Norte’s stamp on the Forest Moon Festival “if there’s not a sense that Humboldt is looking to make this an annual event.”

“I would like to leverage that name and get it ourselves. Establish a web address now,” he said. “Even if it’s a static website and all it says is Forest Moon Festival 2024, we need to establish that presence now if we can get that from them and they agree to do that using that logo.”

The Humboldt-Del Norte Film Commission created the Forest Moon Festival and wants to keep it going, Hesseltine said. Back in 2019 when planning for the celebration was in its infancy, Del Norte was always included, she said. Del Norte splitting off and holding its own festival would make things harder, she said.

Hesseltine noted that in addition to being the festival creation and promoter, the film commission helped each community negotiate the guidelines around Lucas Film’s intellectual property. That included keeping organizers aware of when things had changed.

“There was no actual form to fill out to mark all the boxes,” Hesseltine told the Outpost, referring to intellectual property guidelines. “As we were laying (the festival) out and pulling triggers on things, it changed the rules on us. Now we know the tighter set of rules, that’s how we would operate from here on out.”

Star Wars fans know what the Forest Moon is, but the Humboldt-Del Norte Film Commission couldn’t say “we’re Endor,” Hesseltine said. The film commission could say Humboldt and Del Norte counties was the film site for Endor, she said.

LucasFilm even had to approve the costumers, though they dress up on their own time and pay their own expenses, she said.

“(LucasFilm) allowed them to come and participate in our event. It’s a big deal,” Hesseltine said. “They were really helpful in wanting us to succeed.”

For next year, Hesseltine said the film commission would continue maintaining the Forest Moon Festival website and would “keep it going.”

A more dedicated team organizing the festival would be helpful too since the film commission is also responsible for supporting productions that are scouting out locations or filming in the region, she said.

“I would need to encourage all my funders, including Del Norte, to perhaps help us out with a little bit more funding so we could continue to grow it,” she said. “That’s the biggest thing is make sure we have enough staff to continue to run it with quality and that we have the funding to do it.”


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