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Arts and Culture News

A Sweet Festival for 'Napoleon Dynamite' Fans

When the high school comedy Napoleon Dynamite hit theaters last year and achieved cult-hit status, several unknowns took on much higher profiles: actors including Jon Heder, who plays the misfit title character; first-time director Jared Hess, who wrote the script with his wife Jerusha -- and the tiny mountain town of Preston, Idaho.

An Idaho state legislature resolution commending filmmakers Jared and Jerusha Hess captures some of the impact, reading in part:

WHEREAS, filmmaker Jared Hess is a native Idahoan who was educated in the Idaho public school system; and

WHEREAS, the Preston High School administration and staff, particularly the cafeteria staff, have enjoyed notoriety and worldwide attention; and

WHEREAS, tater tots figure prominently in this film thus promoting Idaho's most famous export;

... and so on.

Preston seems to be taking the attention in stride and is planning to hold its first Napoleon Dynamite Festival on June 24 and 25. Contests, tours and appearances from bit players in the film are on the docket.

Scott Simon talks with Penny Christensen, a lifelong Preston resident and director of the town's chamber of commerce, about the event.

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