A look inside the meme-addled mind behind Shrekfest

·2 min read
Faces of the damned, as collected in Shrekfest TV - Vol. 5.
Faces of the damned, as collected in Shrekfest TV - Vol. 5.

Shrekfest, the world’s premier celebration of computer-generated Scottish ogres, will outlive us all. Every year, even in the midst of a pandemic, the festival has managed to not only attract enough of a crowd to justify its existence, but somehow thrive. All of this presents us with a single question: How did we get here?

Fortunately, Mashable has interviewed the guy responsible for creating and tending to this swampy garden of Shrekly delights and, in the process, retrieved the closest thing to an answer we’ll likely ever get. As it turns out, organizer Grant Duffrin (who also goes by 3GI Industries) was inspired by a fake Shrekfest Facebook event page that he saw, and was saddened to realize was illegitimate, back in 2014. Enticed by the event’s promise to give Shrekheads “an onion eating competition, a roaring contest, and Smash Mouth cover bands,” Duffrin decided to turn fantasy into reality.

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Now, he’s managed to establish a bizarre tradition that he describes as being “just like a family reunion if you got amnesia and forgot who your family was.” Not only has the in-person (and, in this year and last year’s cases, virtual) event found a wide audience, but Duffrin has also harnessed the vaguely frightening power of the Shrek-loving masses to create a wild fanwork like 2018's Shrek Retold (which is, of course, due to be followed up by a sequel sometime soon). While the whole thing is basically born of internet memes, Duffrin explains that the entire project is less ridiculous in practice than it is in theory.

“Everything we do is sincere,” Duffrin says, “Because we’re working our asses off to do this kind of thing. It’s not easy to run a festival.” He points out that Shrekfest fans are just as devoted as he is, which can’t be faked when they’re “genuinely chomping those onions as fast as they can because they want to win the [festival’s] title of onion eating champ.”

For more on Duffrin and his twisted green carnival, read the rest of the article. And for another example of the strange places the internet’s Shrekmania can lead, here’s a story about a custom Fleshlight shaped like the character’s wiggly green ears.

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