Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Serial Celebration Salem, Ill., to Host Official Fest for `Days of Our Lives' Birthday

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Serial Celebration Salem, Ill., to Host Official Fest for `Days of Our Lives' Birthday

Article excerpt

The Midwestern town of Salem has borne all the scandals, secrets, tragedies and triumphs that can be expected as the setting for NBC's popular soap opera "Days of Our Lives."

Now, one of Salem's biggest secrets is out.

Salem is really Salem, Ill., a town of 7,500 people about 70 miles east of St. Louis. That is, it's Salem, Ill., for at least one day.

Southern Illinois' Salem will host the official "Days of Our Lives Fest" on Saturday to celebrate the daytime drama's 30 years on the air.

"We are the only Salem being allowed (by the show's producers) to do this," said Achsah Stremsterfer, manager of Main Street Salem, which promotes downtown Salem, Ill.

Stremsterfer said at least 5,000 people, and as many as 10,000, are expected to attend. She sees that as a boon for an aging downtown that she and local businesses are trying to revive.

"We have people coming from all over the country," she said. A person has been hired to translate the day's events into sign language for a group of deaf fans traveling from Michigan.

A spokeswoman for the show's producer, Corday Productions Inc., said she had written to 14 Salems throughout the United States seeking recognition of the show's 30th anniversary.

"Several of the Salems said, `yes,' they would do that. But Salem, Ill., said it was the one and true Salem," the spokeswoman, Paulette Cohn, said in a telephone interview from Burbank, Calif.

Cohn said officials of the Illinois town were the moving force behind Saturday's events there.

Officials in Salem, Ill., noted that their town is in the Midwest and close enough to Chicago that story lines in the show having characters frequently go to Chicago ring true.

Stremsterfer said, "I moved to Salem from Philadelphia years ago, and I had friends there who constantly watched the show. They thought I was moving to the Salem of `Days of Our Lives.' "

Salem, Mo., a town of 4,500 about 90 miles southwest of St. Louis, got one of the letters from the producers. The town adopted a proclamation saluting the show on its anniversary. …

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