That event was publicized in several countries, and Fargo cashed in. Donations flowed for the theater’s restoration, which dovetailed with plans to revitalize the city’s downtown.
Sixteen years later, travelers looking to see the real Fargo still swing through, with many flocking to take a picture next to the iconic wood chipper, autographed on the chute by the Coen brothers and displayed at the city’s main tourism center. Tourism staff hand out ear-flap hats to tourists and take pictures of them stuffing the leg of a mannequin into the Yard Shark.
“A good majority of people come in here just looking for the wood chipper,” said Jayne Rieth, who works at the tourism center. She didn’t like the movie on the big screen, but watched it at home recently so she could be better informed at work. And the tourism center and shops around town sell plenty of wood chipper T-shirts, shot glasses, koozies, mugs and — of course — ice scrapers.
City boosters hope the TV show, which will be produced by Minnesota-born filmmakers, Joel and Ethan Coen, will add to the notoriety. No timeline has been announced by the FX Network, and John Solberg, FX’s senior vice president of public relations, did not return messages left by The Associated Press.
“I don’t know how it can be a bad thing for us,” said Charley Johnson, president and CEO of the city’s convention and visitor’s bureau. “People still talk about the movie all the time.”
Larry Gauper, of Fargo, a retired health insurance executive, also thinks most people are looking forward to the TV show.
“There are some people who don’t like us sort of being mocked or being made fun of, but I think most people really appreciate the attention Fargo gets,” Gauper said.