By SHANNON WATKINS
On Saturday, April 20 at 7:30 p.m., The Hillbilly Opry in Dublin will be presented with a banner acknowledging its recent inclusion as a Crooked Road Affiliated Venue.
As an affiliated venue, The Hillbilly Opry will be represented in Crooked Road publicity and promotional materials as a family and community oriented place where visitors can experience traditional music of the region.
The Hillbilly Opry started in 1996, when McGuire Family Campground owner Mike McGuire and his son Jason realized there were not many places close to Dublin where people could formally experience bluegrass music, despite its popularity.
The campground, purchased by the McGuires in 1995, had one standing structure, a former convenience store that had mostly burned earlier in a fire. “The building the Opry’s held in was 90 percent burnt down,” said Jason. “It was gone from literally the ground up. We had part of a roof.”
Though most of it was lost before the McGuire family—Mike, his wife, Sandy, and their children, Jason and Jennifer—moved back to the area after living in Charlotte, they went ahead and made use of it.
“Dad and I had been playing music for friends and neighbors for several months in a part of the original building that hadn’t burned down,” said Jason. “So when we started building the restaurant, we decided to include a performance venue that also has plenty of space and a great floor for the dancers who come. We have line dancers, flatfooters, buck dancers, even Irish step dancers here on occasion.
“The music and instruments are bluegrass oriented, but we strive to have something for everybody. In addition to bluegrass, people are just as likely to hear an Eagles song, a Jimmy Buffett tune, or a Merle Haggard song,” continued Jason. “I guarantee before the three hours of entertainment is up, everyone there will have heard some of their favorite songs, and they may come away with a new appreciation of just how much this region’s traditional music has influenced artists like the Eagles or the Hag.”
They charge a minimal fee to cover costs, but Jason points out, “In 52 weeks, we might make $100. This is not to make money. There’s not a lot left for people to go and do. It’s for the community. It’s for a place where the elderly can go along with the young people and everybody can have a good time.”
“It’s always been about more than just the money,” he said, continuing his theme. “To repair the building I hired local contractors. If I need a job done, I hire inside the town or county, even if it’s cheaper to go to Montgomery County. Most of all the music we have, I try to hire local bands and musicians. That was the whole purpose of joining the Crooked Road. It wasn’t to make money, but to draw people to the community.”
The Hillbilly Opry music goes from 7:30 to 10:30 p.m. every Saturday night year round, excepting major holidays. Admission is $6 per person for a three-hour show. The McGuire Family Campground is smoke and alcohol free and is located at exit 101 off I-81 at 4925 State Park Road, just a mile from the entrance to Claytor Lake State Park. For more information, contact (540) 674-5561.
A complete listing of the affiliated venues and festivals and the nine Major Venues of The Crooked Road: Virginia’s Heritage Music Trail, can be found at HYPERLINK “http://www.thecrookedroad.org” www.thecrookedroad.org, or call (276) 492-2409 for more information.