Saturday, September 15, 2012

A "Dukes" event in Georgia in 2013? Great! Meet the man behind it ...

Sakes alive, the dust just settles from Hazzard Homecoming, and there's already a new "Dukes of Hazzard" event to look forward to? (Besides the Louisiana event -- looks good, but a little far for us to drive.) Yes, organizers are now busy planning the Dukes of Hazzard Georgia Reunion for the spring.

The Middle Georgia Speedway in Byron, just south of Macon, will provide the setting for the event on March 8-10, 2013. This classic car show and music fest will feature the core surviving cast members of the show greeting fans and signing autographs: John ("Bo Duke") Schneider, Tom ("Luke Duke") Wopat, Catherine ("Daisy Duke") Bach, James ("Rosco P. Coltrane") Best, Sonny ("Enos Strate") Shroyer, Ben ("Cooter Davenport") Jones and Rick ("Cletus Hogg") Hurst.

BRBTV spoke to the man behind the event, Chris Jennings of Gray, Georgia.

"This event will be huge!" he says. "We have seven of the original cast members of the best television show of all time! On top of that, we are putting together one of the best classic car shows of all time! And the lineup of music artists that we are contracting (to be announced) is absolutely INCREDIBLE!"

And anytime you bring a "Dukes" event to Georgia, it's a big thing, we know, since Georgia is the birthplace of the "Dukes." It affords fans the opportunity to carry on a long tradition of bringing their Generals to photograph at some of the original filming sites of the show. Jennings wouldn't be surprised by that.

"It would be nice to tour the old filming sites," he says. "Don't believe that I personally will have the time to do so until after the event. I am hoping that the attendees of our event will have that opportunity to do so while visiting our beautiful state."

For Jennings, hosting this "Dukes" reunion is definitely a labor of love. We asked him a little about what the "Dukes" means to him, and perhaps who is his favorite character ...

"I have been a 'Dukes' fan since 1979," he tells BRBTV. "I grew up on 'The Dukes of Hazzard.' I have not had the opportunity to meet all of the actors in person. Only Sonny, Rick and James. I would say that in that aspect Sonny is my favorite. We have become close friends over the last few years. We talk on a regular basis. He is just really down to earth. But of course, they are all really nice people."

Jennings, who owned a car dealership, talks about first meeting Shroyer: "I am a member of our hometown classic car club, the Jones County Cruisers in Gray, Georgia. One of our members, Jimmy Edwards, and his son Kyle are huge 'Dukes' fans. They own a General Lee and a Hazzard County Sheriff's car. They invited my family and I to attend and ride with them in the Covington, Georgia, Christmas parade, in which Sonny Shroyer was the Grand Marshall. We had the opportunity to meet Sonny and his wife, Ms. Paula, who is absolutely adorable."

He continues, "My wife and I owned a car lot in Gray. We spoke to Sonny about maybe doing some commercials for us. He really seemed excited. After exchanging phone numbers, Sonny called me about a few weeks later. As a matter of fact, it was New Year's Day. My wife and I were in Pigeon Forge on vacation, and Sonny called to wish us a Happy New Year's. I know that he is a busy man, but for him to just call my family and I out of the blue, it really means a lot."

He says, "It grew from there. And although he never did the commercials for us, my wife and I put together a classic car show to raise money for our church's Road to Hope program. We asked Sonny to make an appearance. During planning and in conversation, I made a statement about, 'I would like to have Sheriff Rosco come, too.' He said, 'I will have him call you.' And he did. We put the show together and we were able to fund the whole program for our church. It was a HUGE success!"

So from there, came another idea, as Jennings explains: "While the actors and their wives were in town, we spent a lot of time together. We ate together, sang together, laughed together. It was great. We talked about another show at that time. My wife said I was crazy! Although it was fun, it was A LOT of work! And as a car dealer, I really have a lot on my plate. But after all, I told myself, that was SOOO much fun, I want to do it again, ONLY BIGGER!!! I love seeing all of the smiles on people's faces when they see those actors and can hug them while getting their picture made. It really makes my day!"

Thus, a fun-filled weekend for "Dukes" fans in March is born. "The event will also include helicopter rides, monster truck rides, military tanks and Humvee exhibits, bounce houses, vendors, food and much much more!" Jennings tells us.

"I guess my wife is right, I might be a little crazy!" he adds.

No, Mr. Jennings ... we fully understand ....

Be sure to "like" the Facebook page for the event and keep an eye on plans as we get closer to March. BRBTV will be there, and is looking forward to being in the beautiful state of Georgia again!

Photo courtesy of Chris Jennings; please do not copy without permission.

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