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The 35th Trekfest will feature ‘Salt Monster’ Sandra Gimpel


Trekfest XXXV

Riverside, Iowa — Friday, June 28 at 5 p.m. to Saturday, June 29 at 11:30 p.m.

Sandra Gimpel on the set of ‘Star Trek: The Original Series’ — Trekfest

This Friday, Riverside, Iowa will be holding its annual birthday party for James T. Kirk, who has yet to be born. For the 35th year, Star Trek fans will gather to celebrate Trekfest, a combination of local and Star Trek-related events.

Kirk’s hometown was imagined by Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry as simply a “small town in the State of Iowa,” until Riverside City Council member Steve Miller proposed setting Riverside as the Starfleet captain’s future birthplace. The motion was passed by the council, and Roddenberry signed off. The town was officially considered canonized with the 2009 reboot movie Star Trek, though the “Riverside” scenes were filmed in Bakersfield, California.

Trekfest XXXV holds the theme “Aliens of Star Trek.”

This year’s featured guest is Sandra Gimpel, known for playing the Salt Monster in the first season premiere of Star Trek: The Original Series in 1966. Dubbed “The Man Trap,” the episode saw the Salt Monster as a vampire-esque creature seeking to suck salt from its victims (including Kirk himself). Fans remember the episode for the delightfully terrifying M-113 creature. Gimpel also portrayed an alien in the rejected Star Trek pilot “The Cage,” and said she appeared as an extra in later episodes of The Original Series, as well as Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Enterprise.

Gimpel broke ground as one of Hollywood’s first stunt women and stunt coordinators, and is still working on stunts today. She will turn 80 in September.

Gimpel will be signing autographs and speaking to fans at the Voyage Home Museum (Friday, June 28 at 7 p.m.). She will also talk about her experience on Star Trek at the Riverside Fire Department (Saturday, June 29 at 2:30 p.m.).

A plethora of events and activities are available to people of all ages, and designed to bring the local community and die-hard Trekkies of all walks together. Most events are hosted at Hall Park.

Friday’s featured events include a Star Trek Trivia Contest, pet show (sign up when you show up), Demolition Derby and free Star Trek movie screenings. Saturday is the heart of the party; its highlights are the Trekfest parade at 10 a.m., Star Trek vendor fair and Star Trek costume contest.

Live music is provided by singer-songwriter Abbie Callahan (an Iowa City West High student who competed on both American Idol and The Voice), Honkytonk Roadhouse, Tanya English Band and Wandering Pint. Ending the festival will be Cedar Rapids cover band Crazy Delicious. All performances are free.

Visit trekfest.org for a more complete schedule.

Captain Kirk’s birthstone in Riverside, Iowa. — Marshall Astor/Wikimedia Commons

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