Return to The Putnam Pit

2nd Annual Lebowski Fest

The afterglow

LOUISVILLE, KY. (July 20, 2003) – It’s 4:30 a.m. and Adam Nepute, a 32-year-old cashier at Thornton’s gas station at the corner of Southeast Bardstown Road and North Goldsmith Lane is restocking the cooler.


“Earlier, myself, I sold 50 gallons of milk for White Russians,” he says, amazed by the run on the dairy case at his station’s convenience store. “On a normal Saturday night, sales are about $2,000. Last night, it was closer to $4,000.


“They were selling White Russians by the pitcher at the bowling alley, and they kept coming here for more milk.”


The bowling alley is the AMF Rose Bowl, adjacent to the Holiday Inn Southeast, where starting about 6:30 p.m. Saturday achievers attending the 2nd annual Lebowski Fest milled around in the climatologically sweltering Southern parking lot discomfort until the doors opened to the air-conditioned paradise by contrast.


In no time, the line to order drinks was so long that a bowler would miss a turn by the time it took to get served. So players at an alley would chip in for pitchers, cutting down on trips through the costumed rollers.


All the big size bowling shoes were taken early and rollers were barefooted or in street shoes.   


The White Russian is the preferred beverage of achievers, as Lebowski fans call themselves, and by Sunday morning the half-consumed plastic cups were discarded around the Holiday Inn, at pay phones, Holidome tables and even on the front desk, while guests staying in rooms encircling the swimming pool had window treatments of Kahlua and vodka bottles, or in some cases, just beer six-packs stacked between the windows and curtains to identify themselves as fans of The Big Lebowski.


“We sold almost all our alcohol,” says Thornton’s Nepute. “All our 12-packs of beer we sold. We doubled our sales on alcohol alone.”


Nepute has never seen The Big Lebowski, but he wants to now. “It’s like a cult film, like the Rocky Horror Picture Show.”


“There were some strange people,” he says. “I didn’t see Jesus, (a character in the film) but I saw everything from a group in little boy T-shirts to a woman with a goatee painted on her face wearing little bowling shoes.


“A guy came in with a cowboy hat, no shoes and drinking a beer,” Nepute recalls, and the cops were here. They told him he couldn’t drink and he said, ‘Why not? I can smoke.’ But there were no real problems. This is not far off the (Kentucky) Derby – it’s just the costumes were weird.”


Although he didn’t attend Lebowski Fest – tickets were sold out days before the events opened Friday night – Nepute say “It would have been a lot of fun.”


“I had a guy who said he thought he was in a car wreck he was having so much fun.”


Aurion Johnson, a 22-year-old front desk clerk at the Holiday Inn, said the costumes were amazing.


“I saw a girl in the lobby stapling gold lamé to her upper thigh for half an hour,” Johnson said.