Have a 'killer time' at Preston's first-ever Napoleon Fest - East Idaho News
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Have a ‘killer time’ at Preston’s first-ever Napoleon Fest

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Jon Heder as Napoleon Dynamite in the famous moon boot dance scene. Listen to our interview with Jon Gries (Uncle Rico) above. We spoke with him ahead of his visit to Idaho Falls in November 2023. | Courtesy photo

IDAHO FALLS – If you visit Preston on July 26 and 27, all of your wildest dreams will come true.

Ok, not really, but you can be part of a two-day event celebrating the 20th anniversary of “Napoleon Dynamite.” It’s called Napoleon Fest.

The movie was filmed there in 2003 and the Preston Area Chamber of Commerce is hosting it. There will be a variety of activities, including self-guided and school bus tours of sites seen in the movie. Other activities include a tater tot eating contest, DYI boondoggle kits, glamour shots, a liger drawing contest, moon boot masterclass, a “Napoleon Dynamite” movie screening at Preston High School, and more.

Chamber member Stevie Emerson tells EastIdahoNews.com the city frequently gets visitors because of the film and the 20th anniversary felt like the perfect opportunity to host the festival.

“We decided, ‘Why not throw something together to make it a little more exciting and memorable?'” Emerson says.

But the festival is far from being thrown together. Emerson has been working with business owners in town for months to create an event that festival-goers will not forget.

RELATED | Actor who plays Uncle Rico in ‘Napoleon Dynamite’ celebrating film’s 20th anniversary with castmates during local event

Olive + Jo, a gift boutique shop on Main Street, will serve as the headquarters. It sells “Napoleon Dynamite” memorabilia and people from all over the world have stopped in over the years.

Shop owner Kim Cannon keeps track of where customers come from on a map that’s on display in her store. She says nearly every state is represented and the farthest away anyone has traveled is New Zealand.

“It was just last week,” Cannon explains. “We had someone from Australia and then we had a young couple from New Zealand in the same week. The New Zealand couple said they loved the movie and they specifically planned to come to Preston to see the movie sites.”

Kim and map pic
Kim Cannon next to the map on display in her Preston shop. | Courtesy Kim Cannon

Over the years, Pedro and Napoleon’s houses in the film are the biggest attractions for tourists. An elderly farmer currently lives in the Napoleon house, Cannon says, which is several miles northeast of town.

“The man that owns Napoleon’s home used to have a sign out front that said, ‘Welcome to the Napoleon Dynamite house.’ He’s very receptive to people coming to take pictures,” Cannon says.

People also enjoy seeing that the lockers at the high school really are that colorful and that the tether ball pole at the elementary school is still intact.

Big J Burgers at 196 North State Street serves tater tots exactly like you see in the movie.

“I had a guy come in this spring and he literally pulled tater tots out of his pocket and asked if I wanted one,” Cannon says, laughing.

Cannon started documenting customers’ hometowns about three years ago and it’s thrilling for her to see how beloved the film is all over the world.

“I love that people are so invested in this movie (that they travel to Preston),” she says.

Emerson has put together a Google Map link with directions to all the movie sites.

She and her team have reached out to Jon Heder and other cast members to invite them to attend the festival. So far, they haven’t heard back. But they’re hoping they’re able to be there.

“There is a lot of interest and so we’re hopeful we can get that to work,” Emerson says.

There is a cost for some of the activities. A full schedule with details about ticket prices is available on the website. The schedule is included below as well. There’s also an event Facebook page.

napoleon fest schedule
Courtesy Stevie Emerson