July 31,2010, marks the date of the first annual General Lee fan fest. Held in the Area 57 lot in Branson, Missouri, crowds of fans showed up. More fans than officials were expecting showed up, leaving all tickets sold. Management began stamping hands of the fans unable to receive wrist bands due to the high number of folks in attendance.
Lines were already forming at 9a.m., in anticipation of the 10 a.m. opening. Admittance prices were $10 for anyone 11 years and older. Kids 10 and under were free.
The ceremony was started much like Nascar. A prayer was sent up, and then owners of rebuilt cars resembling the original cars in the show had a Dixie sounder. On hand for the opening “bell” were 20 General Lee chargers, three sheriff cars, Boss Hogg’s caddy, and a few jeeps. In addition to the typical cars expected, also on hand was an orange motorcycle, proudly displaying the famous “01” logo on the sides.
The four stars from the Dukes of Hazzard were then escorted up to the main building of Area 57, where fans were waiting for autographs and pictures. Catherine Bach “Daisy”, Ben Jones “Cooter”, Sonny Shroyer “Enos”, and Rick Hurst “Cledus” were on hand for the fan fest. While I was planning on getting autographs, it wasn’t until I reached the table of Mr. Hurst that I realized the autographs weren’t free. Each star was asking $5.00 for their John Hancock. Though I passed on their signatures, it was a special occasion, allowing me to visit with them and to get a few pictures.
It has been 30 years now since the phenomenon of the Dukes of Hazzard began. Folks today are just as wrapped up with the show as they were back in the late 70s. Twenty individuals have spent lots of time, money and energy to rebuild classic cars to look like the originals from the show. Jason Felty, of St.Louis, Missouri, a fan of the Dukes of Hazzard, says he was a fan of the car, not of the actors. As a classic car collector, he has rebuilt four General Lee chargers, three of them for friends. In addition, he has rebuilt a classic Jeep, designed after Daisy’s as well as a sheriff’s car for his dad. Felty attends approximately 10 car shows a year, showing off his unique eye for detail, and talent for restoring the classic cars.
Reruns of the Dukes of Hazzard can occasionally still be caught on cable, and many fans have purchased the boxed sets of the show. Two television movies were produced in the 90s, as well as a Hollywood remake of the show for the big screen.
Officials of the fan fest say that this celebration of the show will hopefully be a yearly event. The event brought many, many visitors to Branson. This gathering allowed some motels to benefit from sold out nights. Sandy Flanders, owner of Green Mountain Inn, said that their hotel had rented out every room in the motel. Motels completely sold out for a nigh is something unusual in Branson, due to the high number of motels in Branson.
To find out where Dukes of Hazzard car gatherings will be held throughout the remainder of the year, click here.