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'Twin Peaks' lives on

Where can you go to get a piece of cherry pie and a cup of "damn good coffee?"

What was the television show "Twin Peaks" all about, anyway?

Who really did kill Laura Palmer?

Each summer for the past 13 years, anywhere from 70-150 fans of the early 1990s television series "Twin Peaks" have flocked to the Valley, where parts of the show were filmed during its two seasons on the air.

This year's gathering will celebrate Twin Peaks Fest 2006.

It is at this festival that "Twin Peaks" fans are able to discuss the many mysteries, explore the unanswered questions and revisit memories of the television show that became a cult classic.

The festival takes place in North Bend (though tour buses will travel throughout the Valley) July 28-30. Tickets are sold online in advance and will also be available that weekend.

"There are two types of fans," said Jordan Chambers, who, with his wife Kelly (both of Kansas), Jared Lyon of New York and Amanda Hicks of San Francisco, has been coordinating the "Twin Peaks" festival for the past three years.

(It is not officially sponsored by any Valley city and none of the festival's planners live locally.)

Chambers went on to describe the fans, most of whom come to the festival from Seattle or outside the state.

"There is the first-time goer who gets to experience "Twin Peaks" for real, and then there are the people who have attended before. [For them] it's almost like a big family reunion," he said.

Tickets cover the entire weekend of activities, which include special appearances and question-and-answer periods with actors from the show and movie, a costume contest, a trivia contest, an all-day tour of sites from the show and film, dinner and more.

There also will be a trip to Seattle open to non-weekenders to view cult director and "Twin Peaks" creator David Lynch's film "Lost Highway."

So, this weekend expect to see visitors turn common Valley sites such as Twede's Cafe (known in the show as the Double R Diner that features the now-famous cherry pie) and the Mount Si Motel in North Bend into revered locations that actually appeared in the TV series and movie.

It's like the fan gets to become a part of the experience, Chambers said about why visiting the locations is so imperative to many "Twin Peaks" fans.

At least once a day, Kyle Twede, owner of Twede's Cafe, has a "Twin Peaks" fan stop by his diner, most often to taste the cherry pie or have some "damn good" coffee (a popular phrase said by a character on the show), both made famous by the TV show.

"I had a gal fly out here from Germany to New York and then drive 3,000 miles to here to get a piece of cherry pie," Twede said.

When the festival goers are in town, the number of visiting patrons jumps to about as many participants as are in the group.

It's great for businesses in the Valley to have visitors, Twede said.

Twede said that locals seem to be torn as to whether being associated with "Twin Peaks" is good for the city.

"Half of the town would just as much assume 'Twin Peaks' was a horrible thing and that it should go away; half the people think it's good because it brings in business," he said.

When Twede took over the diner nine years ago, he said it was still capitalizing on its "Twin Peaks" fame. Even today, a sign on the exterior of the restaurant reads: "Home of Twin Peaks Cherry Pie."

Twede said that though the diner remains near the top of the list for main tourist attractions in King County, he is more focused on appealing to locals.

He still has "Twin Peaks" memorabilia available for sale, though, and makes extra cherry pie each summer for the Twin Peaks festival tourists.

"This is the last [only] place in town to get memorabilia," Twede said. "So when they [tourists] come to town, we'll just keep feeding them."

"Twin Peaks" originally came from the minds of Lynch and writer/director/executive producer Mark Frost. Aired on ABC from April 1990 to June 1991, the dramatic - and often surreal, quirky and eccentric - show was set in the fictional small town of Twin Peaks, Wash.

The central plot told the story of an FBI agent who was investigating the murder of a teen girl. The deeper he gets into the case, the more disturbing dirt he unearths about the lives of many locals.

After the show premiered, it became a surprise hit, both with critics and viewers.

In its second season, though, its popularity began to wane as the public became dissatisfied with the plot developments once Laura's killer was revealed (spoiler alert: It was her father).

Lynch returned to the Valley in 1992 to film the prequel movie "Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me," which was panned by critics and fans, but has gone on to become a cult favorite to fans and nonfans of the television show.

The movie premiere was held at the North Bend Theatre in North Bend.

Tickets to the Twin Peaks Fest 2006 are $200-$220. Visit www.twinpeaksfestival.com for more information.

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