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    ‘Jaws’ fans gather on Martha’s Vineyard

    Actors Richard Dreyfuss (left) and Robert Shaw in the 1975 film, ‘Jaws’.
    Universal Pictures/Getty Images
    Actors Richard Dreyfuss (left) and Robert Shaw in the 1975 film, “Jaws”

    JawsFest: The Tribute, a four-day festival celebrating the terrifying 1975 film, kicked off in Martha’s Vineyard today.

    The popular summer destination was transformed into the fictional “Amity Island” in 1974 to create the movie based on Peter Benchley’s novel, which tells the tale of a gruesome shark that haunts the quaint community.

    The event will “explore how the making of ‘Jaws’ has impacted the lives of those who came to Amity in 1974 and how the blockbuster film they created continues to impact lives today,” event staff said in a press release. The event will pay tribute to people involved with ‘Jaws’ who have since died, including Benchley, and stars of the film, Roy Scheider and Robert Shaw.


    “Jaws” fans can attend a screening of the film, take a look at movie memorabilia with life-sized models of the three main characters, and engage in games and activities, including a trivia hunt and a three-story shark slide. “Jaws” lovers can also participate in autograph signings and “Shark After Dark” parties, which offer drinks, tapas, and s’mores on the beach.

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    JawsFest merchandise will be available at the Jawstore.

    Real-life has taken an almost cinematic turn with news last week that a swimmer was bitten by a great white shark off of the Cape Cod town of Truro. It was the first shark attack in Massachusetts waters since 1936. More shark sightings have been reported in recent years because the creatures have been drawn here by an increasingly large seal population.

    A major focus of the Vineyard tribute is marine conservation, staff said. They said they hope to raise awareness and funds for sharks, by hosting experts from around the world.

    The festival was last celebrated in 2005. This year’s event is expected to draw 5,000 fans.


    “JawsFest ’05 event was incredibly successful and had a much greater reach than we ever anticipated, with fans showing up en masse from around the world — many in character,” said Susan Sigel Goldsmith, event co-director from 2005 and producer of the 2012 event, in a press release. “As Jaws continues to entertain new generations of audiences around the world, we’re thrilled to give fans a unique event experience in Martha’s Vineyard that they will never forget.”

    A calendar of events and pricing is available on the festival’s website at

    Melissa Werthmann can be reached at