The Small Town Celebration To Honor An Original Addams Family Cast Member

Those who've watched the classic run or any spin-offs of "The Addams Family," based on the cartoons by Charles Addams published in The New Yorker, likely have a favorite character, either from the playfully macabre Addams family itself, or a member of that family's spooky staff. Focused on the Addams family's daughter, Wednesday Addams, one recent revamp of the show is simply titled "Wednesday," set to premiere November 23 on Netflix. (The trailer is on YouTube.)

As far as fans of the original "Addams Family" are concerned, in 2021, the small West Virginia town of Philippi came up with a whole new way to honor their favorite "Addams Family" character, as Clarksburg, West Virginia news outlet WBOY TV explains. The first show was on the air for two years, from 1964 through 1966, with several film and TV spin-offs since then (via IMDb). The inspiration for the unique celebration in Philippi — with a 2022 population of less than 3,000, according to World Population Review — came about because one of the original TV show's cast members grew up there.

Ted Cassidy grew up in Philippi, West Virginia

According to his biography, posted on The Famous People, actor Ted Cassidy, who played the Addams Family butler, Lurch in the first show, was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. As West Virginia news station WDTV explains, though, Cassidy grew up in the small town of Philippi, West Virginia. In 2021, Philippi decided to honor who is quite likely the town's most famous resident. 

Speaking with WBOY TV in 2022, the second year the civic event took place, Christofer Cook, author of the upcoming Cassidy biography "Lurching Forward" and a vendor at that year's celebration, said that Cassidy lived with a medical condition called acromegaly, which explained the actor's large size and distinctive facial features. Cassidy spent his formative years in Philippi. While in Philippi, Cook also met people who said they knew or knew someone who knew the late TV star, he said. "[P]eople keep coming up to me and telling me these great stories about their grand pappies, and their nanas, their moms, uncles and dads who went to school with Ted Cassidy," Cook added.

Philippi's Addams Family-themed celebration is called 'Lurch Fest'

According to the Clarksburg, West Virginia newspaper The Exponent Telegram, Philippi chose to honor Cassidy with a one-day festival called "Lurch Fest." The event premiered in August, 2021 and returned again in 2022, with live music, vendors, and food booths. There was also a statue of Cassidy unveiled in Philippi at the first event (pictured). The celebration is centered around the Barbour County Historical Museum in Philippi, which honors Cassidy year-round with personal belongings from Cassidy's childhood, according to WBOY-TV. "Lurch Fest" attendees are also encouraged to cosplay as their favorite Addams Family character.

On attending the second-ever "Lurch Fest" in 2022, Cassidy biographer Christofer Cook called it a fun time for families (via WBOY-TV). "I think the most unique part of Ted Cassidy's life is that even though he had some difficulties being the size that he is, and that he was bullied at times, the most amazing part of him was he was intrepid. He really had this drive to look past all of those things that would have held someone back," Cook added. "And he used his large size in order to become a commodity in Hollywood, and he did very well." In addition to Lurch, with the iconic catchphrase "You rang?" Cassidy had voice acting and on-screen roles in "The Incredible Hulk," "Tarzan," and "Godzilla" TV series, according to the actor's IMDb profile. No word yet on Lurch Fest 2023.