My daughter and I drove 300 miles each way across southern Idaho this weekend to check out the Napoleon Dynamite Festival in Preston, Idaho, where the movie was made. It was a perfect small-town festival (and I've seen a few), full of fun things to see and do, all imbued with the same amiable goofiness - and, in some cases, cluelessness - that marked homeboy Jared Hess' film.
We took a bus tour of film landmarks, arriving early enough to snag the very seat (on the very school bus) actor Jon Heder occupied in the film's opening scene. We crowded into the Preston HS auditorium to watch a round of the moon boot dance, impersonation and look-alike contests. Most memorably, we saw a performance of the talented Good Hands Club - the real-life version of the Happy Hands Club seen in the film.
Souvenirs abounded. My favorite T-shirts on offer included "Bow to your sensei," "Pedro offers you his protection" and a replica of the helicopter shirt Napoleon wears in several scenes. One downtown store offered Deb-style glamor shots for $5. King's, a discount variety store, was selling the same stye of smocks Summer Wheatley wore. People crowded into the Big J fast-food restaurant to eat tater tots and quesadillas. It was all big fun. Only one effort overreached: that of the self-styled "marketing expert" who sold rocks from her neighbor's driveway stamped with the slogan "I got my rocks off at Pedro's." O-kay.