A Sweet Festival for 'Napoleon Dynamite' Fans Preston, Idaho, has seen tourism boom since the film Napoleon Dynamite became a cult hit. The town is about to hold its first Napoleon festival. Scott Simon talks with organizer Penny Christensen.
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A Sweet Festival for 'Napoleon Dynamite' Fans

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A Sweet Festival for 'Napoleon Dynamite' Fans

A Sweet Festival for 'Napoleon Dynamite' Fans

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SCOTT SIMON, host:

Dust off your moon boots and don't forget the ChapStick. The Napoleon Dynamite Festival will take place in Preston, Idaho next weekend and you can be among the hundreds, if not thousands, of devoted fans who are planning to attend. Now for those people who haven't seen the film, the movie follows the exploits of a young man named Napoleon Dynamite who plays tetherball and cherishes his ChapStick in Preston, where he lives with his offbeat family and a pet llama. Penny Christensen is the director of the Preston Chamber of Commerce, and she's helping to organize the festival. She joins us from Preston.

Ms. Christensen, thanks for being with us.

Mr. PENNY CHRISTENSEN (Director, Preston Chamber of Commerce): You're welcome.

SIMON: Now the director of "Napoleon Dynamite," Jared Hess, grew up in Preston?

Ms. CHRISTENSEN: He did.

SIMON: And was Preston flattered to have this film?

Ms. CHRISTENSEN: You know, Preston, as a whole, wasn't, because they did think that it portrayed them as being hickish, but we've had probably 6,000 visitors in my chamber since January, and people are coming to see who we really are.

SIMON: Six thousand visitors since January. I mean, my gosh, I'm assuming that people didn't used to come to Preston in those numbers.

Ms. CHRISTENSEN: They did--no.

SIMON: And now what do they want to see?

Ms. CHRISTENSEN: Now they want to see all the sites where "Napoleon Dynamite" was filmed, like the high school...

SIMON: Yeah.

Ms. CHRISTENSEN: ...like Pedro's house, like Napoleon's house, Pop'n Pins bowling alley.

SIMON: We've got a clip here. You mentioned Napoleon's friend, Pedro...

Ms. CHRISTENSEN: Uh-huh.

SIMON: ...who is deciding to run for class president. Here's the clip.

(Soundbite of "Napoleon Dynamite")

Mr. EFREN RAMIREZ: (As Pedro Sanchez) Do you think people will vote for me?

Mr. JON HEDER: (As Napoleon Dynamite) I guess. I'd vote for you.

Mr. RAMIREZ: (As Sanchez) Like, what are my skills?

Mr. HEDER: (As Dynamite) Well, you have a sweet bike, plus you're like the only guy at school who has a mustache.

Mr. RAMIREZ: (As Sanchez) That's true. If I win, you could be my secretary or something.

Mr. HEDER: (As Dynamite) Sweet!

(Soundbite of laughter)

SIMON: So what are you planning for the Napoleon Dynamite Festival?

Ms. CHRISTENSEN: We're having Tater Tot-eating contests, the moon boots dance contest, impersonation look-alike contests. We're also going to have some fireworks there that say, like, `Vote for Pedro' and different things, and a sweet bike and Rollerblade contest on Main Street.

SIMON: And if I were to show up in Preston, I'd be able to find some ChapStick easily enough?

Ms. CHRISTENSEN: Yes, you would. We've even got the Boon doggle key chains that say `Vote for Pedro' on them.

SIMON: You sell those in town?

Ms. CHRISTENSEN: We do. We have a hat that says, `Preston, Idaho, home of Napoleon Dynamite.' We have Sweet Maps for the tours.

SIMON: It seems as if the town has gone from saying, `This film might have its charms but it's not our town,' to saying, `Oh, yeah, that's our town. Vote for Pedro.'

Ms. CHRISTENSEN: That's right.

SIMON: I mean, it's like you don't want to disappoint people.

Ms. CHRISTENSEN: Pull your heads out of the sand and let's have fun with this, you know? That's what we're doing.

SIMON: Ms. Christensen, thanks so much.

Ms. CHRISTENSEN: You're welcome. Thank you.

SIMON: Penny Christensen, director of the Chamber of Commerce of Preston, Idaho, and coordinator of next week's Napoleon Dynamite Festival. To find out more about that festival and to view a clip from the film, you can come to our Web site, npr.org.

(Soundbite of music)

Unidentified Woman: (Singing) You know this boogie is for real. I used to put my faith in worship. But then my chance feels just too heaven sent. Oh, I used to worry about the future, but then I threw my caution to the wind. I had no reason to be carefree, no, no, no...

Chorus: (Singing) No, no, no...

SIMON: This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon.

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