Mopar Action: February, 2002

The first national Dukes Fest '01.

Story and photos by Jerry Heasley

If'n you had a mind to go to the Dukes Fest '01, you had to abide by Uncle Jesse's rules, like keeping an eye out for your young-uns and dogs and waiting until you wuz outside to spit tobaccer. This was a family event, and you had to refrain from alcoholic beverages, cussin' and fighting. Oh, and General Lee drivers who burned ruber was liable to get cuffed and stuffed by Sheriff Roscoe P. Coaltrane.

Rosco, played by actor James Best, was one of the cast members there in person from the Dukes of Hazzard televison series. Also signing thousands of autographs during the three day weekend of August 24-26, was Ben Jones, who played Cooter, the mechanic and sidekick of Bo and Luke, big stars, who, sadly, could not attend due to prior commitments. Daisy Duke was another headliner conspicuous by her absence, although she did send a personal video tape explaining a daughter in kindergarden and one in pre-school took up her time this year.

Sonney Shroyer, who played Deputy Enos, and Rick Hurst, who played Deputy Cletus, were also big attractions for the fans. Rounding out the regular cast from the Dukes were Don Pedro Colley, who played "big" Sheriff Little; and Byron Cherry, who took over the role of Bo (he played Coy) for a half season.

The Dukes of Hazzard originally aired on January 26, 1979 and officially ended February 8, 1985 after seven seasons and 145 shows. In 1996, TNN re-ran the series worldwide on cable (up until a week before Dukes Fest '01, read on), creating a whole new generation of Dukes' fan. Similar to Star Trek, the Dukes of Hazzard has become a cult classic of international proportions, encompassing more generations and a bigger audience than ever before.

Aneesh Sehgal is a 27 year old who started the Dukes of Hazzard Fan Club (www.Dukesofhazzardfanclub.com) in 1992. Aneesh grew up in Chicago. He explained, "People there would taunt me and say stuff like why do you like this country stuff, this hillbilly stuff' But, I loved the show."

All weekend the twenty-somethings told us how they loved the Dukes when they were growing up. Travis Bell, head of the General Lee fan club, is 28 and fits this mold. "Friday night, my mom had to sit through the Dukes waiting for her show, Dallas," Bell laughed.

He joined Aneesh's club and then last March came up with the idea to start his own club for the owners of original and replica General Lee Dodge Chargers. His web site is www.generalleefanclub.com.

The third club helping get this first national Dukes Fest '01 off the ground was the Canadian Dukes, headed by Paul Harrington. Their web site is canadianDukesfanclub.com. They brought Canadian Jack Gordon, who played Honest John Ledbetter, candidate for sheriff in the very first episode.

Meanwhile, Ben Jones (Cooter) who went off to Congress as a Virginia state representative, has retired from politics and come back home to open Cooter's Garage in his old stomping grounds which has a running creek. It's the perfect spot for a combination museum and meeting place for the fans of the Dukes' show.

More than 30 General Lees, including four original TV cars, showed up at Dukes Fest '01. Owners are solid Moparites with a decided bent towards the '69 Charger. They like the show and what it stands for, making the car- whether an original or a replica- a natural for them.

Walter Wilson is 46 years old and one of the boomer generation who watched the show when it was new. He felt so strongly for those values he bought a replica of the General Lee and tattooed The Dukes of Hazzard on his right arm. The full color tatoo includes a picture of his Charger and a confederate flag with the word "REBEL" spelled out.

The Dukes Of Hazzard attracts peopel with a rebel spirit who long for traditional American values. At first these symbols appear to be contradictory until one remembers the United States was formed from a revolutionary war. Dukes fans see themselves as rebels. They like the concept of fighting for a cause and taking a stand. A line from "Good Ol Boys" says Bo and Luke are "fighting the system like two modern day Robin Hoods".

Cooter's Garage hosted over 10,000 for Dukes Fest '01. Only one guy got thrown out, for cussing. Nobody spit tobaccer on the floor. There weren't no moonshine being passed around. All the young-uns and dogs were taken care of. Rosco didn't have to cuff nobody (although he did a few times just cause he's Rosco.)

Uncle Jesse would have been proud.

Bring Back The Dukes!

The week before the Dukes Fest '01, TNN canceled the show on cable. Dukes fans are mad and fighting together to get the show back on the air. They circulated a petition to send to TNN.

If you'd like to help put the Dukes back on television, you can send email to Cooter at onecooter@aol.com. He'll forward the mail to the right people.

Or, you can contact TNN directly at 888-POP-1090.

If you want to be even more direct, contact ont of the following at TNN: Barbara Zaneri, head of scheduling at TNN 212-258-7973; Cheryl Daly, Public Relations, TNN: 212-846-4070; Larry Jones, General Manager, TNN: 212-258-7500; TNN email: tnn@country.com

There was more "Dukes material" in this issue other than the article above. On page 59 where they are covering the All-Chrysler Nationals you can see this picture of Byron Cherry (Coy) and Chris Mayer (Vance)! This is a great issue!
This page was created on March 12, 2002

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