Thursday, January 31, 2019

The Dukes of Hazzard 40th Anniversary Celebration Was The Perfect Hazzard County Event



The 40th Anniversary Celebration of the Dukes of Hazzard in Nashville, TN on Janurary 26 and 27, 2019 was one of the most amazing experiences of my life.  The weekend was all about dreams coming true for me.  The entire cast got together along with Hazzard Nation to celebrate the greatest TV show of all time and it was such a special event.  Buckle up, this is a long one, but so much fun.  Here we go.


I love Nashville.  If you've been keeping up, you might have read about a few other Dukes trips I took to the Music City.  Ever since my first trip, I love recreating a beloved picture of me and the General Lee in the Hilton parking lot with the Country Music Hall of Fame in the background.  My car for the weekend was an awesome Charger RT so I had to take the picture again.


Of course, the first thing I did after leaving the airport was drive to Cooter's.  The atmosphere was electric even on Thursday.  It was definitely big event time.


I have to share pictures of the awesome collection at Cooter's in Nashville.  My favorite part of the huge museum is the bedroom set up in the front of the store.  It sure looks like another bedroom I know very well and may have grown up in.


There are so many amazing pieces in the bedroom.  The doodle kit is on the wall, the raincoat is hung up, and there are tons of rare collectibles everywhere you look!


What's that picture under the 01 plate?


It sure looks familiar!


I think I've done this before on the blog, but I am so honored that my picture hangs in the Dukes bedroom in Nashville and that it was modeled after my bedroom.


I could, and have, written multiple blogs about the collectibles at Cooter's.  I'll share a few of the wonderful pieces before moving on to the events.


I need to add a beanbag to my collection!  Anyone have one?


In a recent post I talked about an item I was looking for and several friends reached out and helped me track it down.  Granted, it wasn't a super, super rare piece, but I got to try anyway.  This Boss Hogg 3D Plastic Pop Art poster is one of my top "wants" of all Dukes of Hazzard pieces out there. If anyone has any information on where I can find one, please let me know.  Moving on.




This truly is the ultimate Dukes of Hazzard collection!


I grabbed a quick shot of some of the awesome 40 Years merchandise Cooter's has to offer.  If you haven't yet, go to cootersplace.com and get some for you collection!


I got some authentic Nashville Hot Chicken on Thursday.  Here in the Pittsburgh area, other restaurants like Eat N'Park and KFC have added Nashville Hot Chicken to their menus, but it's nothing like the real thing.  Real Nashville Hot Chicken is HOT!  I loved it.


My weekend consisted of three events that each would have been the highlight.  But the next event kept topping the last.  The first such event was on Friday morning, when I had the honor of driving Miss Daisy to appear on WTVF News Channel 5 Talk Of The Town alongside Tom Wopat.


Catherine and Tom gave an interview about the Dukes' 40th and hyped the event.  What a cool experience.  I have a long background of being in a TV studio dating back to my mother's TV lab at the Brownsville Area High School, where she taught TV Drama.  It was fun to get back in to it all.  I met some really nice people and loved watching Luke and Daisy talk Dukes.  That trip downtown could have been the highlight for me.  But the weekend just kept getting better.


All day on Friday, Hazzard County's Finest, Deputies Enos and Cletus met fans inside Cooter's Place.


I love watching people get to meet their heroes.


This is so much fun!


In Daisy Country, in the rear of Cooter's Place, Miss Alma gave some interviews about the big weekend.


And so did Catherine.  I am so privileged that I get to eavesdrop on these cool moments.


Saturday was the big day.  The autograph session took place in the Music City Event Center located behind Cooter's Place.  Here's a calm before the storm shot.


There was a huge assortment of merchandise available at the event center.  


It wasn't cold out, but it wasn't warm.  There were Hazzard County vehicles to enjoy, but nowhere near as many as at summer events.  This was a gorgeous General Lee.





Beautiful.


The line was long, but the Dukes fans were so excited for the event.


We fans of the Dukes of Hazzard are so fortunate that we have these opportunities to meet the cast of our favorite show.


It is so much fun watching good ol' boys and girls meet the Good Ol' Boys.


Cousins, closer than brothers.





Just look how happy everyone is!  (Hey, it Tony Lawson!)


Then it was time for my big experiment!  In a previous post I announced the availability of the Pro Photos with the cast.  This was my idea and I am so excited about how well it worked out.  Going into it, Catherine, Tom, Sonny, and Rick had agreed to be in the pro photo.  Ben hadn't confirmed and John wasn't even coming to the event.  Mid-week before the celebration, John announced he was coming to the party, but the pro photo was already set.  The photographer I set up had been doing this at comic cons for years and knew it was going to work flawlessly.  I think he was the only one.  It took some explaining to get it all happening.  I had to explain it to the fans, I had to explain it to the cast, I had to explain it to the crew.  I got different opinions as to how well it would work.  Then it started.  Bo agreed to be a part of it, and then so did Ben.  It finally happened.  After years of trying, I was about to get a photo with the entire cast.  


What made it work so well was the photographer, Matt, the crew, and of course, the great cast.  Everyone worked together and we got hundreds of people through the line and into position for the once in a lifetime picture in under an hour.  It was so perfect.



Everyone that got a picture taken was so happy.  Look at those smiles!  The fans that were waiting in line for autographs were accommodating and there weren't any issues with getting back in line after the photos.  The process to pick up your photos also went smoothly.  It was just a huge success.  


Here is Richie Alligood's photo that included his girlfriend Lindsey and Miss Alma.  They came out so great.  


As they were being delivered, I grabbed four random photos and took a picture of them.  They are all great shots.  One happens to be fellow Dukes fanatic J.R. Garrett's photo, in the top right.  Could he be any happier?  What do you think J.R., best picture ever?



The photos were a hit.  I am so proud that the process worked so great.  The cast was happy with them, and so were the fans.  I couldn't be happier with my photo.  This is something I have been chasing for years and I finally made it happen.  I am so grateful that everyone agreed to do it!  Wow, it worked!


After the pro photos, it was back to autographs.  I was the MC/announcer throughout the day letting people know who was signing, when the cast arrived, talking about the upcoming events, and about the music.  I hope no one got tired of my voice.  It gave me a great opportunity to talk to fellow fans.


Scott and Steve Marthaler came all the way from Minnesota for the event!  They brought their awesome pedal car for autographs.  They are huge fans and even appeared on CMT displaying their love of the Dukes.  I really enjoyed talking to Scott and Steve.


I had to grab a picture with this awesome General Lee frame that good ol' boy Dustin from Champagne, TN brought to get signed.  I wouldn't mind getting one of these for myself.


Enos and Cletus weren't the only Hazzard County law enforcement in the building.


Paolo and Maria traveled from Italy to be a part of the celebration.  They had a blast.  They didn't let the language separation stop them from meeting their heroes, getting their pictures and enjoying everything Hazzard County has to offer.  Though we couldn't talk too much, it was great meeting them.


Richie's girlfriend, Lindsey, brought these beautiful cookies for the event.  I got one of each, but I couldn't bring myself to eat them.  How long will these bad boys last?


When the autograph session ended on Saturday, the main event was gearing up.  When I left the event center, there was already a big line at the Texas Troubadour Theater.  I had to go get something to eat.


When I got back, the line was huge.  Fans were so excited to watch One Armed Bandits with the cast.


I got to the theater and met up with the stage crew.  They ran such a smooth show.  I had to take a picture of the schedule blocking that included me on it.  It was time to MC!


The crowd shuffled in and the anticipation was growing.


I had to take a selfie just to make sure the moment was real.

I still can't believe that I was the master of ceremonies for the screening of the premiere episode of the Dukes of Hazzard to celebrate the 40th anniversary.  Wow!  I started the event with a thank to the event sponsor, Zaxby's Chicken and then asked some trivia questions to the crowd.  Nobody missed a question.  The theater was full of the biggest Dukes of Hazzard fans in the world.  Something really cool that Cooter's had planned was for the event to be broadcast live on Facebook.  I am so grateful it was because I'm not sure I would have believed it actually happened if I didn't get to watch it later.


What a dream come true. 


Something that I thought was really cool after watching the video was that the viewers at home were answering the trivia questions as well in the comments.


The trivia was great, but the highlight for me was without question the second portion of the live feed when I got to discuss the Dukes of Hazzard with the Dukes of Hazzard.  At the 14 minute mark of the video, I was in the green room with Ben, Sonny, Rick, Dorothy, and Tom.  It was amazing.  I got to interview my heroes!  The audio was played in the theater, but I later found out that everyone was watching on their phones on FB.  

I've embedded the video here.  You can watch the whole presentation including the trivia, backstage interviews, and the stage portion that was definitely the main event.  Sit back and enjoy the show!
Live video stream from Lower Broadway Records
Live Video Stream on Facebook Live
Posted by Cooter's Place on Saturday, January 26, 2019




I had to grab a few phtotos right before the curtain opened.


My family watched it all at home.  My dad had a blast.  Here he is watching me.  Wow!


The stage portion included Ben, Alma, Sonny, Rick, Catherine, Dorothy, and Tom telling wonderful stories about the show.  It was so special.  They also took questions from the audience.  I asked one from the FB Live audience as well as the overflow audience in the event center.  I am so honored I got to be a part of the show.


The crowd loved it.  They had so much fun.


The big moment came.  Exactly 40 years after the premiere of the Dukes of Hazzard, I got to lead the countdown to the start of the show.  This picture is dark, but you can see how proud and happy Ben and Alma are!

The Dukes of Hazzard puts smiles on everyone's faces, even the Dukes of Hazzard.  It truly was magical to watch the first episode with the stars of the show.  This whole event was magical!

Live video stream from Lower Broadway RecordsLive Video Stream on Facebook Live
Posted by Cooter's Place on Saturday, January 26, 2019
After the screening we headed over to the Nashville Palace for the big concert.  I included that video as well.  


Right at the beginning of the show we surprised Ben and Alma with a plaque showing appreciation for everything they do for us fans.



Richie is the mastermind behind the plaque and it truly came from the heart.  I really think Ben and Alma were touched by it.  Great job Richie!


The show was amazing.  Ben perfomred first with his Cooter's Garage Band, followed by Whey Jennings Waylon's grandson who was unbelievable and then Tom Wopat took the stage.  What a great show!


Boss Hogg went on a diet and enjoyed the show.  This is Carson Stepp from Manchester KY.  Carson was actually dressed up as Abraham Lincoln Hogg III.  I really like that his costume has a back story.  Good talking to you Carson, I mean AL Hogg!


The cake man Michael made an astonishing cake to celebrate the event.  Look at this beauty!






Just wow!


I got to hang out with your buddy and mine, Gary Schneider during the concert.  I love talking Dukes with Gary.


David Sadler of Calhoun GA loved showing off his fresh General Lee ink.  Very cool David.


On Sunday, we did it all again!  The crowd lined up outside for another autograph session.


John singed a beautiful General Lee behind the building.


We did the cast photos again and they went even smoother.  We are pros at this now.  Maybe we'll do this again at another big event!


I happen to be at Sonny's table when Jerry Goosey and his son Kaleb from Irvin, KY were meeting Enos.  They were getting this awesome 1/64 autographed.  I love the patina of this bad boy.



This is one cool collectible!  Thanks for sharing Jerry and Kaleb.


I also got to see Whey stop by to chat with Sonny.  What a cool moment.


This awesome Fall Guy truck was outside.  I love seeing so many cool TV vehicles at these events.  I have never seen a Fall Guy truck before.


When the event was winding down, the film crew who are making the upcoming Hazzard Nation interviewed John.  I got to be a fly on the wall and listen in on the interview.  Another great moment.  I can't wait for the Hazzard Nation film, and what I have seen so far looks amazing.  More info on that soon.


I don't think the weekend could have been better.  For me, I got to do so many amazing things.  Just driving Catherine would have been a highlight, then I got to see the Pro Photo plan work perfectly.  After that I got to live a dream and host the screening.  I still can't believe how fortunate I am.  The 40th Anniversary Celebration of the Dukes of Hazzard was one of the most amazing experiences of my life.  Thank you so much to Alma and Ben, Amy, and everyone involved.  This was the perfect Dukes of Hazzard event.