When “Fargo” Came to Fargo

I have many, many stories. For now, I want to tell you what happened when “Fargo” came to Fargo.

My daughter and I had just moved to North Dakota so I could be the pastor of a church at the East end of the state. We decided to see the film “Fargo,” which had just been released. We wanted to be prepared in case some of the people in our town might be sharing opinions about the film.

Afterward, we agreed that while the film was quirky and there were some fine actors involved, the local people were made to look … well, backward.

When we asked a couple of the ladies we had met, they had either seen the film or not, but they all had decided. The word had gotten around that the movie was not made in North Dakota, but in Mahnomen, Minnesota, perhaps 30 miles east of the location in the title. Therefore, they claimed it was a fake, and didn’t have any opinion beyond that.

Who would have thought that the film would be up for several academy awards? “The People” decided – I don’t know enough about Fargo, the town, to know whose idea it was – to give the Hollywood observers what they were expecting. It was widely advertised that everyone was invited to ride through Fargo …. on farm wagons or tractors. Moms, Dads, kids, older folks were encouraged to wear those winter hats with the long ear covers, old-fashioned clothes – I think overalls were mandatory for men, and covered with layers of granny square Afghans.

There was even a warning on the 6PM news to be careful of traffic on I29 going south. It could be perilous!

Oh, what a night! Frances McDormand won Best Actress. The Coen brothers won an Oscar, too.

The next day life was back to “normal.” After all, It was not yet spring, so more snow would come, then the flooding of the Red River, then the summer, usually very hot or very rainy. Farmers were planning what they’d need for planting, renting equipment. Homemakers were preparing for spring teas and graduations already.

Still, people mentioned from time to time the excitement when “Fargo” came to Fargo.

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