‘Cooter’s in the Valley’ holds grand opening this weekend; Tom Wopat kicks off Shenandoah Jamboree

Page News and Courier

LURAY ― After relocating last fall further west on Route 211, “Cooter” will officially unveil his new home in the Valley with a grand opening celebration this weekend.

On Saturday and Sunday, visitors to “Cooter's in the Valley” will get a glimpse for the first time of the garage museum that serves as a replica of the dwelling made famous through the 1980s hit television show “The Dukes of Hazzard.” Designed by a movie-set building team from Louisiana, the garage will also feature a replica of “Boss Hog's Cadillac,” after it was delivered last weekend.

The festivities kick off at 10 a.m. on Saturday, with a ribbon cutting and a meet-and-greet with Tom Wopat, who portrayed “Luke Duke” in the CBS series. Event-goers are invited to tour the premises, which feature food, retail and museum areas.

Saturday will also serve as the kick-off of this year's Shenandoah Jamboree concert series, with Wopat taking Cooter's newly constructed stage at 7 p.m. Monthly performances will continue in the series throughout the year and will be broadcast on local PBS stations through a 13-episode series. Each installment will feature vignettes filmed throughout Page County with Ben “Cooter” Jones that highlight various attractions in Page County.

Last month, the Page County Board of Supervisors approved $12,000 in Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) dollars for the series. The “lodging tax” funds, which are earmarked each year for tourism-related projects, will promote the county's three towns in the series of vignettes.

“This is another example of unbelievable, wonderful support we've received from Page County,” said Jones' wife and business partner Alma Viator. “It's a joint venture to promote the entire area and show people in surrounding areas all that the Valley has to offer.”

Festivities will continue from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, May 7, when Wopat will spend a second day signing free autographs and meeting fans. Guests during this weekend's grand opening events and throughout the year will also get a chance to record their own tracks at Cooter's new recording studio.

Happenings will continue throughout the summer, with free live music from 1 to 3 p.m. every Saturday and 2 to 4 p.m. every Sunday. Cruise-ins are also planned from 4 to 8 p.m. every third Saturday through October. Last month's inaugural event drew more than 250 classic wheels and hot rods.

And this July, at least 10,000 are expected to turn out for “Cooter's Last Stand,” when the two-day DukesFest event draws cast members to Page County for a final festival.

Saturday's ribbon-cutting and Sunday's meet-and-greet are free events. Shenandoah Jamboree tickets are $25 reserved and $20 general admission. Tickets were almost sold out at press time Tuesday, according to Viator.

“We're so happy to be here,” said Viator. “Our hope is that we become an integral part of the community, that we can provide entertainment for tourists, but especially locals. We hope that Cooter's is thought of as a happy place ― a place that reminds us of more innocent times and happy memories.

“We want families to feel especially welcome,” Viator continued. “We want people to know that they can just come and enjoy it, that they don't have to spend a cent.

“Everybody is welcome at Cooter's.”

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