food & drink

Belly Up

By Jared Curtis



They do roll on Shabbos

After hearing about an adult-oriented event based on the 1998 movie, “The Big Lebowski,” the hunt was on. Over a good sarsaparilla, I spoke with Steph Jessen, organizer and member of The Strangers (based on Sam Elliott’s character), the group responsible for creating one of the coolest events to happen in Des Moines all year, Dude-A-Rama.
“My group of friends just really loves the movie, and we wanted to create a fun and cool event that would really tie the summer together,” Jessen said.
An extremely popular national event, “Lebowski Fest,” is a celebration dedicated to all things Dude-like. It features a plethora of entertainment, special guests (Jeff Bridges has attended many) and bands rocking covers of the film’s popular music. The event takes place all over the country, but when “Lebowski Fest” organizers were asked to hold their event in Des Moines, they said thanks, but no thanks.

“When we found out they weren’t interested in coming to Des Moines, we thought, ‘why not do our own event?’” Jessen said.
So Dude-A-Rama was born, and the first event was held last summer.

“We thought we would keep it very dude-esque and just let people know by word of mouth,” Jessen said. “But it didn’t really work out like we had hoped. It was a lot of fun, but we knew more people would attend if they heard about it. And we knew if we brought in a good band, it would attract more people, so we have Mooseknuckle playing this year.”

The event takes place July 31 at AMF Lanes, 3839 N.E. 14th St., with a bowling tournament (best and worst rewarded), live music, White Russian drink specials, a costume contest, a seminar on making the perfect White Russian, trivia contest and plenty of prizes and memorabilia. Skyy Vodka, Kahlua and Sioux City Sarsaparilla have all come aboard as sponsors.

“The AMF Lanes is so perfect for this event, and there is not another bowling alley like it in town. Plus, designated drivers will get free Sioux City Sarsaparilla,” she said. “Although you don’t have to wear a costume to attend, the costume contest is a huge part of the event. Last year we had people dressed like the Dude, Walter, Maude, Liam and the Jesus. We want people to be creative this year.”

There are two levels of tickets, the “Urban Achiever Package,” which lets you enjoy all the festivities for $25, or the “Treehorn Package,” which is $35 and comes with an event T-shirt and a White Russian. The “Treehorn Package” must be sold in advance, and the order must be placed by July 1. There are only 350 tickets though, so get them before they’re gone.

“Simply put, I wish I was The Dude because he doesn’t give a shit, and he doesn’t let things bother him. Besides, the film is a true classic,” Jessen said. “It’s a fun, unique event unlike anything else in town, so stop out and celebrate all things Lebowski.” CV

Attendees from last year’s Dude-A-Rama show off their bowling trophies. The 2nd Annual Dude-A-Rama takes place on Saturday, July 31 at AMF Lanes, 3839 N.E. 14th St. Tickets are $25-$35 and available at, The Art Store or at the door ($30). For more information, visit

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