Who was that guy impersonating Forrest Gump throughout XPoNential 2014?

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Photo by Michelle Montgomery | michellemontgomeryphotography.com
Forrest Gump impersonator Paul Dengler | Photo by Michelle Montgomery | michellemontgomeryphotography.com

You never know what you’re gonna get at a music festival. At least that’s what Paul Dengler wanted to make sure life was like at XPoNential this year.

Dengler, a Forrest Gump impersonator, was seen from Friday to Sunday watching performances, interacting with festival-goers and starting conga lines.

Photo by Michelle Montgomery | michellemontgomeryphotography.com
Photo by Michelle Montgomery | michellemontgomeryphotography.com

“Me and Lieutenant Dan, we like to travel around and go to all the music festivals and all,” Dengler said in character. “We heard the XPoNential music festival was a fine festival, so we decided to come.”

Ask Dengler to talk to you out of character, and you’ll find out that he’s a Montgomery County native who currently live in Nashville. He supports himself as a singer-songwriter and a visual artist, but has been doing Forrest Gump impersonating for years, mainly for the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company restaurant chain.

“I have found that the key to my success is doing festivals,” Dengler says as himself. “Going out and taking what I do directly to the people, handing out cards and interacting with people.”

Photo by Rachel Barrish | rachelbarrish.com
Reporter Beth Ann Downey talks to Forrest Gump impersonater Paul Dengler | Photo by Rachel Barrish | rachelbarrish.com

Dengler describes his own music as “New Orleans sounding,” and says he’s usually compared to Randy Newman. This weekend he enjoyed being a music fan, though, with favorite sets from the likes of Ingrid Michaelson and C.J. Chenier and the Red Hot Louisiana Band.

“I got a bunch of people from the audience to form a train behind me, and we were all doing the zydeco thing down to the stage,” he recounts of Forrest’s actions during C.J. Chenier’s set. “Then when we got to the stage, everyone who was on the train just spilled out and they were all dancing with me, so it was a lot of fun.”

Dengler’s next stop? Next week’s Musikfest in Bethlehem, where he plans to appear as Forrest Gump all 10 days of the festival.

“This is awesome,” Dengler says of XPoNential. “You can’t beat the location and the Philadelphia skyline.”

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  • JoshPincus’sNewChair

    I thought that was a little weird.

    • LostinLogic

      says the talking chair

  • Cindy

    Paul is GREAT! A true artist in every way!

  • Edie Weinstein

    Piggy backing on this interview….I had the joy of spending some quality time with both personae “Forrest” and Paul and this emerged from it. http://www.beliefnet.com/columnists/blissblog/2014/07/life-is-like-a-box-of-chocolates.html

  • Benny

    He was walking around at the Phillies game on Thursday too!

  • Mare

    Loved seeing him.. and the entire XPONential Music Festival

  • http://thenewgonzos.com Marcus Correll

    this dude was at Bonnaroo too! he must be making his rounds all over the east coast. Nashville isn’t far from Bonnaroo, but Philly on the other hand is quite the run, Forrest, run.

  • WM

    I was at an outdoor Beatles themed concert this past week and this guy showed up. I dont find it cute or funny that he works the crowd when a band is playing a gig. Kind of an unspoken rule that you dont do that to another performer or group.

  • Fred

    Run Forest Run

  • LISA STEEGMUELLER

    OH MY GOD…I WAS AT THE FISCHERS PARK BEATLES FESTIVAL…ENJOYING THE MUSIC WHEN I LOOK THERE A SEE A MAN THAT LOOKS FAMILIAR…HOLY SMOKES ITS FOREST GUMP…I WAS WITH A GROUP OF PEOPLE…WE ONLY FOCUSED ON HIM…HIS LINE DANCING…WALKING AROUND WITH HIS SUITCASE AND PADDLE…DANCING WITH THE CROWD…BUT THE FUNNIEST…WHENEVER HE HAD HIS PICTURE TAKEN HE WOULD NEVER FACE THE CAMERA…ONLY LOOKING AT HIS SUBJECT…IT JUST CRACKED YOU UP…HAVING A 40TH BIRTHDAY PARTY…HOPING THAT PAUL DENGLER…AKA FOREST GUMP COULD ENTERTAIN SO WE CAN HAVE SOMETHING THAT THE PARTY GIRL COULD REMEMBER FOR THE REST OF HER LIFE…WTG…FOREST…JENNY IS WAITING FOR YOU…LISA…LANSDALE,PA