Thursday, August 24, 2017

Cooter's Last Stand in Luray, VA Was The Perfect Dukes Of Hazzard Event


It's about time I write my blog about Cooter's Last Stand, wouldn't you say?  The biggest Dukes of Hazzard event of this decade, the event that was years in the making, Cooter's Last Stand in Luray, VA was a huge success!  There were more General Lees and more Dukes fans, there were just more of everything.  It was so much fun and I am so proud that I was a part of it.  Ben and Alma threw such a perfect event.  Let's see what kind of pictures I took and what stories I have to share.  


I arrived in town on Thursday before the event started on Saturday.  I knew it would be hectic from the moment I got there.  These monster trucks, the General Hazzard Monster Trucks, gave rides all weekend.  Before they took their spot in the field, they grabbed a photo opportunity in front of Cooter's Place.


A real highlight of my weekend was meeting Boone.  Boone is a die-hard Dukes fan and has been following my blog as long as he's loved the Dukes.  It was an honor to talk to Boone.  His mother told me I was as important to him as the cast and that was humbling.  I ran into Boone so many times over the weekend and he was always right in the thick of things.  He met the cast members, had a great view of the jump, and was front row seats for the concerts.  I sometimes think I have the more fun than anyone else at these events, but each time I saw my man Boone, he was having a blast.  It was great to meet Boone and I look forward to talking Dukes with him in the future.


Thursday was when I got the lay of the land and figured out where everything was set up.  At one point I found myself out by the stunt set up and this beautiful General Lee that Jamey Smith was going to jump Saturday and Sunday.  I had to check it out.


It is a great looking car and the wheels, decals, and push bar look perfect.


I then noticed that the doors were actually welded shut.  Though the fictional Gen'ral on the show has welded doors, it is rare to see one in real life like this.


I looked inside and noticed something was different about this car.



The stunt car that Jamey built is actually a Ford Crown Vic with a Dodge Charger body on it.  There are no windows and it has a complete roll cage built in.  Nothing on the car is "classic" and it is all new parts.  If something gets bent or broken, Jamey can easily replace it.  It is ingenious.  No one can complain that he is jumping an original, and his jumps go from ramp to ramp so there is no damage anyway.  Jamey Smith of Smith Bros. Restorations knows what he is doing.  I got to hang with Jamey throughout the event and he is such a great guy.  I even had the opportunity to drive the stunt General, and man was it cool.  I had to get in and out Dukes style through the window.  It was awesome.


Another vehicle I first saw on Thursday, and it made me smile everyone time I passed it throughout the weekend, was the Cooter's Cruiser.  Bill Jenkins of Jackson OH built this beauty specially for Cooter's Last Stand.  Bill also built the beautiful #99 Cooter's Camaro that is parked inside Cooter's Garage at Cooter's in Luray.


What makes this blue truck so special to me is that fact that it never appeared on the show.  It was only ever a toy model set.


Cooter's Cruiser was a model set released in 1980 before there were any other Dukes toys beside the General Lee.  There are three "Snap Model Kits" in the set and they are all just ramdon vehicles with Dukes stickers on them.  Bill took the model and created a real car based on it.  Being so hooked on the Dukes toys, I'm  amazed by this idea.


Bill added all the insignia and decals from the model kit to the car and also added the Cooter's Last Stand logo to the rear.  Bill Jenkins crafted an amazing car and I'm very happy it was a part of Cooter's Last Stand.


Friday I was busy all day.  Richie and I had a lot of things to set up, including my trivia area.  I had spoken with a friend earlier in the week who said he wasn't going to come by on Friday because he didn't think there would be much going on.  He were mistaken.  Friday was nearly just as busy as Saturday and Sunday.


The store was packed for three straight days.


There also happened to be an unadvertised concert with Cooter's Garage Band with special guests Catherine, Sonny, and Rick Friday evening.


During the concert there was a very private cast family dinner in the garage.  I was very honored to be invited.


It was a blast.  In the middle of me and Sonny is my new pal Mike Garland.  Mike is known as the voice of Carlisle to many Dukes fans.  He is a PR guru and was on hand to run the social media and host many portions of the event.  We hit it off right away.  His 1/25 General may have been broken while Sonny was signing it.  I may have been involved.  I may plead the fifth on that.  Mike was a great addition to the event, and he filled a gap that we didn't know existed.  I look forward to working with Mike in the future.



The concert was a lot of fun and there sure were a lot of Dukes fans packed into the museum.


You know I have to try to get a picture with Bo whenever I can.  John popped in to the dinner for a short time and said hello to everyone.


This is a picture John took with my phone.  He'd never used a Motorola before and thought it was interesting.  Isn't Alma beautiful?


Alma van Hensen (Two Almas!) is the Netherlands' biggest Dukes fan.  He runs the site thedukesofhazzard.nl and wouldn't miss the trip the Cooter's Last Stand for anything.   He and his pal Serge, the Dutch Duke Boy, made the trip together and every time I saw them they were having fun. I'd talked to Alma a few times online, but it was really great meeting him in person.


During the dinner, I got the trivia trophy signed and also got Ben to sign the participation certificates for the runner ups.


Cody of C3Brix, (do I have to introduce him every time now because I think he is a full fledged member of the DukesCollector family and I can just say Cody from now on) showed up toward the end of the dinner and brought along his awesome Lego Hazzard County Championship Title belt.  I claimed to be the first ever champ.  Wanna take me on for the title?


Cooter's Last Stand officially started on Saturday.  The rain oficially started beforehand.  Luckily the rain stopped early on, but the damage was done.  There was quite a bit of mud for most of the day on Saturday.


That didn't stop Hazzard Nation from showing up.  The line was huge to get in and so was the number of General Lees lined up.


Have you ever seen more Hazzard County vehicles?  


Cody set up in my booth.  It was offically known as the Dukes of Hazzard Trivia Competition at Cooter's Last Stand and C3Brix Lego Headquaters.  I love being official.  I was labeled "Trivia Contest" by the banner that was hung up.


Cody sold the Limited Edition Lego Rosco's Patrol Car that he designed.  They were quite a hit. People who wanted low numbers came to the booth immediately.  I wonder who got number one? (It was me).



On Saturday, I took the drone up for some shots from the sky.  Only three drones were allowed at the event, and the other two pilots were pretty busy taking standard video.  This video contains some of the only aerial footage of the full event.  Enjoy.


One of the greatest parts of the event was meeting people I've talked to online through this blog. Angel from Spain was very cool to talk to.  Fans came from all over for the Dukes.  More on Angel's Dukes tattoos soon.


Another huge Dukes fan that I met through the blog is David S. from California.  He told me he was bringing some pieces from his collection and he did not disappoint.  David owns these original screen used license plates from the show.  He works in Burbank and has connections to Hollywood.  These pieces blew me away.  It was very cool to see these original props.  I look forward to talking to David more.


Unfortunately this photo is a little dark, but this father and son combo had great Bo and Luke costumes.


The lines were long all day, and another dark photo shows a little of the crowd and also a rare Jett sighting.  Jett Yaskow from Buffalo, NY, is a very cool guy and huge Dukes fan.  I always enjoy hanging out with him.




Now this is an awesome way to show the love for the Dukes.  Come on, Larry, take a picture of the dude's face too!


J.R. Garrett is the next generation Dukes of Hazzard fanatic.  I have become good buddies with J.R. since I first met him in Sperryville in 2015.  He couldn't wait to sign up for the trivia competition and I really wish he would have made it in.


He honored me by printing out my trivia announcement picture and asked me to autograph it.  Thank you J.R. That really made my day.  J.R. was busy at the event as a volunteer but I know he had so much fun throughout the weekend.


J.R. is the proud owner of a Hazzard County Patrol Car replica trunk.  It had many autographs when he bought it, but he has added more.


He asked me to autograph the trunk lid as well.  Wow.  My (messy) autograph beside Sonny, Catherine, John, Tom, and Ben's.  What an honor.  



 I love talking to fellow collectors.  I love even more seeing their collectibles.


Mid-day on Saturday it really started to become a nice day.  The clouds parted ways and there was actually some blue sky overhead.  Dave and Melissia DeWitt's Mobile Dukes of Hazzard Museum was a hit, as always.  They had a constant stream of people walking through the trailer.


The crowds were everywhere.  I worked Tom's booth for a bit and hung out at John's for a little while.  I love seeing people meet their heroes.  I love hanging out with my heroes even more.


The main stage was under a massive tent.  I mean this thing was gigantic.  It fit so many people under it, it was unbelievable.   There was music all day.  I was back stage for the big finale concert on Saturday with the cast.  I love how those things work out.


After the big concert, the last part of the event on Saturday was the General Lee jump.  People lined up early to get a good view.


My pal JD from JDJoyrideTV on youtube was once again on hand to capture all the fun of the event. Without really even planning it, we became the official camera crew for the stunt show.  JD and his crew had so many cameras installed on the stunt car and all around the ramps.  His footage is the best taken of the jump.  The full video is embedded below on the blog.  His edit is so good.


We had full access to everything and we were so close to the General Lee when it flew threw the air.  It was so much fun.


There were only three drones allowed in the air, one was JD's and one was mine.


Jamey Smith prepped the crowd and then it was jump time.  JD's video covers the entire event and his jump footage is near the end.  I'm really proud that I was a part of the video.  Check it out below then continue reading the blog.



JD is good!


Saturday night we had some work to do after everyone left.  There was an empty wrestling ring.  You know I had to get it in. Richard thought about challenging me for the Lego Hazzard County Championship, but he decided against it.


Sunday threatened to be another lousy weather day early on, but the sun burned off the fog and it was beautiful all day.  The mud even hardened.  The weather was perfect.


Sunday we did it all again.  I grabbed a shot of Dave DeWitt's museum before it was mobbed with fans. The trophy looks right at home among Dave's collectibles, and he probably would have won the event, but he wasn't eligible to enter because he reviewed my questions before hand.  There were quite a few people relieved Dave wasn't going to enter; they all knew he is a Dukes trivia powerhouse.     




Angel from Spain stopped by the booth again on Sunday and I had to get some pictures of his Dukes tattoos.  He went with a "Dukes" cartoon theme and it really worked.  That's some Dukes dedication!


You see people dressed like Bo, Luke and Daisy at many events, but a full on Boss Hogg and Rosco duo is rare.  These guys were a big hit the entire weekend.  They had routines and props and really came prepared.  They were from New Jersey and huge Dukes fans.  I hope they come back and give us more great performances.  


They even cuffed me and stuffed me!  So much fun. 


If you remember my blog about the San Diego Comic Con a few years, I made a big deal about the taco truck behind the convention center.  Ever since me and Jeff found that truck, I always tend to seek out tacos when food trucks are around.  There were great food vendors at the event, and my BBQ tacos did not disappoint.


Sunday for me was all about the trivia competition.  I had a lot of help and I am so proud of how well it came together.  I already wrote a whole blog post about the trivia competition, so give that a look if you haven't already.


I would once again like to congratulate Milton Dacus Jr. for winning the event.  He truly deserved it. I really hope everyone that entered had fun and everyone who competed enjoyed it.  I plan on doing it again in the future and it will be bigger and better next time.


If you have an orange Charger in rough shape and you are going to a Dukes event, it only makes sense to slap some 01s on the side and make it a movie "pre-Cooter" car.  Great job!


I always enjoy hanging out with Gary Schneider.  He is a true friend and a true Dukes of Hazzard fan.


Everyone loves the wrestlers at Cooter's Last Stand.  WWE Hall of Famers The Rock and Roll Express were on hand and the crowds loved it.


Sunday evening I found myself backstage for the cast concert once again.  Here are the wrestlers recording a video with Ben.  I didn't snap too many pictures while back stage. I was doing more talking than picture taking, I guess.


The finale once again was the jump.  So many people lined up to see it.


Me and the camera crew had full access on Sunday as well.  I think I was even closer to the flying orange clunker car this time.  Both of my drone jump videos are in the video I embedded above.


When everything was wrapping up on Sunday, I ran into Boone and his family again.  I think he actually had more fun than I did, if that's possible.  He told me all about watching the jump with Rick Hurst and meeting the cast.  I am so glad I got to meet Boone and talk Dukes with him.


The lines were long all day for the cast members and even though they were cut off early in the evening, people were still in line into the night.  The Dukes weren't going to leave when people were still in line so the autograph sessions went into the wee hours.  I headed over to help out.  Once it got dark I was holding a flashlight for Catherine to sign and some firemen noticed and offered these awesome lightsaber looking gadgets.  They really made it easier and I got to look like a Jedi.


The force is strong with Jett and I.



Monday morning before I headed home I stopped back in the store and saw some friends.  I grabbed a photo with "Cousin" Don who likes to bring up Franks and Beans every time he sees me.  I'm ok with that.  Jeff would also be ok with that.


Cooter's Last Stand was an amazing event.  The word is there were over 20,000 people there and I believe it.  I have been to a lot of Dukes of Hazzard events, and no one runs them like Alma and Ben. They throw the perfect Dukes of Hazzard parties.


The entire town of Luray and all of Page County, VA, helped make this event so special.  Cooter's Place found a great new home in Luray and we are all fortunate and thankful for the community that is the new center of Hazzard County.


The crew at Cooter's Place did such a great job.  Michael Smith and his family, including Jacqueline and Skylar run the stores so well.  All of the volunteers and workers at the event made the event run smoothly.


I am so thankful for Ben and Alma, and all the cast members to put on an event like this.  All the General Lee and Hazzard vehicle owners were such a huge part of Cooter's Last Stand.  So many fans showed up to make this event one for the record books.  I am so fortunate to have the access I have at Dukes events and I get to have so much fun.  Thank you so much to Ben Jones and Alma Viator for creating Dukesfest, Hazzard Homecoming, and Cooter's Last Stand and for keeping the Dukes of Hazzard alive for all of us fans!  Let's do this again!

8 comments:

  1. Great blog Larry! Perfect memory of one great weekend! Also nice to meet you, up till next event!

    Serge "Dutch Dukeboy"

    ReplyDelete
  2. I agree it was the other fans that made the event special. The cast is amazing as always, but my best memories of that weekend are of the people I met like Alma and Serge. So many great stories- I still haven't fully digested it all.

    Mark

    ReplyDelete
  3. beautiful. :) thanks for this write up! was so fun to kinda see the OTHER things that were going on besides standing in line. we did that almost the entire time and only got dorothy and catherine. :( those lines were a little bit too insane. sad.
    the pictures are glorious. aaahhh. you should sell them. ;)

    ReplyDelete
  4. My english is not good, but I don´t have enough words to describe this excellent work. Congratulations Larry Franks!

    Pedro Armijo

    ReplyDelete
  5. Great article! Our son got to experience it all! So blessed as to how it all came together, best trip we have ever had as a family! #boonesmom

    ReplyDelete
  6. Quick question for you. Did Gary Schneider ever get his General Lee restored?

    ReplyDelete
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