It’s a strange, quirky little movie about a slacker nicknamed “The Dude” who spends his time drinking White Russians, bowling and wearing his bathrobe.
But “The Big Lebowski,” the 1998 film by Joel and Ethan Cohen that stars Jeff Bridges and John Goodman, has become a cult classic, worshiped and quoted by Dude devotees around the world.
It’s also the centerpiece of one of the Tallgrass Film Festival’s most successful annual fundraisers – Dudegrass. The third annual Dudegrass, scheduled for Saturday night at Northrock Lanes, invites fans of the movie to bowl, enjoy White Russians, dress in Lebowski costumes and participate in a bathrobe runway show.
Tallgrass organizers borrowed the idea from Lebowski Fest, a popular traveling party that’s been migrating from city to city since being founded in Louisville in 2002.
Lela Meadow-Conner, the executive director of Tallgrass, said that she and her colleagues tried getting in touch with Lebowski Fest to see if they’d bring the party to Wichita. But they never got a response. They envisioned someone very Dude-like in charge of the home offices.
“We were like, ‘We’re going to do this ourselves,’ and we decided to call it ‘Dudegrass,’” she said.
For the past two years, the event has drawn around 300 people to Northrock Lanes, 3232 N. Rock Road. Some bowl. Some watch screenings of the film in A J Sports Grill, the restaurant attached to the bowling alley. Many come in costumes that they pull out once a year for the event. Past events have seen attendees convincingly dressed as Bridges’ bathrobed Jeffrey Lebowski, John Goodman’s ready-for-combat Walter Sobchak or Julianne Moore’s Viking-ette Maude Lebowski.
“People like getting dressed up,” Meadow-Connor said. “It’s like hipster Halloween.”
This year’s event will feature a “quote-along” during the movie, and a bathrobe runway show. A costume contest and games of The Big LeBingo also will be part of the evening. Participants will vie for prizes that include all-access passes to the Tallgrass Film Festival that will be put on Oct. 16-20.
The movie will be screened twice – once at 5:30 p.m. and once at 7:45 p.m. A shop organized by Bluebird Arthouse will be selling Lebowski-themed items such as block prints and jewelry.
Tickets are $13 for Tallgrass Film Association members and $15 for nonmembers and include unlimited bowling and shoe rental plus admission into the various contests. A J Sports Grill also will be offering discounts on White Russians and food items.