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Fargoans turn out to celebrate Fargo the town and ‘Fargo’ the movie

March 25, 1997

FARGO, N.D. (AP) _ Limousines and designer dresses? Try pickup trucks and hooded parkas. Caviar on Melba toast? How about pickled herring on a Ritz. This is Fargo, after all.

Residents _ at least those with a good sense of humor _ turned out Monday night to honor the Oscar-nominated movie ``Fargo″ and to prove that no one can better poke fun at their town than the town itself.

``We’re here to celebrate our strength, our resilience and our ability to laugh at ourselves,″ said Margie Bailly, who helped organize the bash at the city’s historic Fargo Theatre. ``Besides, we need a party right about now. We’re smack in the middle of the snow and the flood seasons.″

More than 870 residents donned flannel, big furry hats and exaggerated Norwegian accents to attend Fargo’s own version of an Oscar-night party.

They started gathering two hours before the Academy Awards live telecast even began, dancing to a live polka band and snacking on Scandinavian favorites such as pickled herring, lime Jell-O and rommegrot, a fatty, white pudding.

``I took off work and came just for this, don’tcha know,″ said Jackie Robertson, of Fertile, Minn., who came dressed the part of Marge Gunderson, the pregnant police chief played by best actress nominee Frances McDormand.

Instead of an Oscar statuette outside the theater, there was an ``Olie,″ a department store mannequin clad in long underwear and a hat. An ice-fishing hut and snowmobiles crowded the sidewalk along with a wood chipper, a device used in the movie by one character to dispose of another.

``I think we’ve covered just about every cliche people think of when they think of Fargo,″ Bailly said.

``Fargo,″ directed by Minnesota natives Joel and Ethan Coen, is a dark comedy about a Minnesota car salesman who hires two hitmen in Fargo to kidnap his wife. It was nominated for seven Academy Awards, including best picture and best screenplay.

It also had a healthy dose of good-natured ribbing, playing up every Upper Midwestern stereotype imaginable: everyone is Norwegian, it’s always cold, life moves a little slower.

``If you don’t have a sense of humor up here, you don’t last long,″ said Kristin Rudrud, who played the part of Jean Lundegaard, the kidnapped wife of the car salesman.

Rudrud, a real Fargo resident, showed up for the party in a chauffeured pickup truck and wearing a black blouse, black mini-skirt and huge winter boots.

Rudrud originally planned to attend the Academy Awards, but was asked by the moviemakers to come to the ``Fargo″ party instead.

``I’m much happier coming to this,″ she said. ``This is huge. The Oscars are just the Oscars.″

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