All photos © 2006 ChristianActivities.com
The largest event ever to hit the Nashville Motorplex/Fairgrounds occurred this past weekend when DukesFest 2006 delivered an estimated 100,000 fans of “The Dukes of Hazzard” television series to the Nashville Fairgrounds on Saturday and Sunday. Fans from all 50 states and several other countries flowed into an enthusiastic sea of orange at Music City Motorplex as over 100 General Lee’s were parked on the speedway and fan t-shirts mirrored the General’s colors.
The General Lee may have been the center of attention much of the time as fans took photos and $10 rides in one of TV’s most famous cars, but equally popular were the autograph sessions which attracted such overwhelming numbers that the Fire Marshall closed the lines down.
Dukes of Hazzard Cast Members
Cast members Catherine Bach (Daisy), Christian actor John Schneider (Bo), Tom Wopat (Luke), James Best (Rosco), Sonny Schroyer (Enos), Ben Jones (Cooter), and Rick Hurst (Cletus) gamely signed autographs for hours on end, posing for photos and autographing everything from photos, t-shirts and model cars, to real car doors!
Other celebrity guests included Stella Parton (the first Nashville actress to guest star on the show), Jerry Rushing (the real life moonshiner whose story inspired the series), David Browning (The Mayberry Deputy) and numerous musical guests including gospel group Blue Ridge.
The Dukes of Hazzard TV Show
“The Dukes of Hazzard” was shown on prime time for seven seasons and appeared in Nielsen’s top 10 from 1979 to 1982. Cable networks have rerun the show’s 147 episodes ever since.
The event was spearheaded by Ben Jones of Cooters, and the event staff bent over backwards to be accommodating and to make DukesFest a pleasant experience for young and old alike. Unfortunately, the same could not be said for the Rock Solid security staff in the grey “Polite but Firm” t-shirts as frequent complaints were overheard both days about their heavy-handed behavior with patrons.
High points would include the Friday night parade of General Lees as fireworks exploded overhead, the two concert performances by John Schneider and Tom Wopat with the rest of the cast, Sunday morning’s Cowboy Church, and the spectacular stunt show that brought the event to its thrilling conclusion as squad cars flipped and the General Lee made a record breaking jump.
Ole Cooter himself, Ben Jones, somehow sandwiched a career as a congressman somewhere between acting, singing, and managing the Cooters chain. Jones was a Georgia congressman from 1989 to 1993 who lost to Newt Gingrich in 1994. His people skills and his continuous attention and commitment to the crowds were evident as he seemed to be everywhere at one time, smiling, shaking hands and signing autographs while running the event and dealing with schedule snafus. If he ever lost his cool, he did it behind the scenes, and he stayed after the show ended to sign autographs for those who needed one last item signed.
I’ll admit I wasn’t a Dukes fan before, and I don’t know that I could really be called a fan now. However, if DukesFest returns to Nashville in the future (and rumors indicate that may be the plan) — who knows? I might just have to don an orange shirt and make my way back to Hazzard!
From our archives 6/4/6
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DukesFest 2006 Brings Hazzard to Nashville
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