The ‘Duke’ boys take over Rappahannock

The screams of “Yee-haw!” and the familiar jingle of the General Lee’s horn filled the air last weekend as the legendary “Dukes of Hazzard” made a pit stop in Rappahannock County. The second annual Hazzard Homecoming took place in Amissville over a two-day period, and featured a slew of events that would have made the Duke boys smile.

The festivities actually began Friday night (Aug. 10) with the orange-carpet premiere of “Return of the Killer Shrews,” a sequel to the 1959 horror movie “The Killer Shrews.” Set 50 years after the original – and starring several members of the “Dukes” cast, including John Schneider (Bo Duke), Rick Hurst (Cletus) and the movie’s producer-director-writer, James Best (Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane) – the premiere was attended by the entire cast of the original show and many enthused fans. Flash bulbs and camera phones accompanied each cast member’s arrival as they were driven up in their very copy of the show’s famous General Lee.

“Anyone who takes anything in this movie seriously is going to be very disappointed,” Best joked to the packed crowd before the pretend-premiere, at which the stars arrived in prop “Dukes” vehicles and a Pittsburgh radio personality conducted red-carpet interviews with a microphone that wasn’t really connected to anything.

Despite, or more likely because of, the ridiculous nature of the film, everyone left the theater in Little Washington smiling and trading opinions on the Duke boys’ best adventures. As Best noted, the “success” of the first film enabled the sequel to have an actual budget.

“This time we have actual computer effects for the shrews,” he said, “instead of just throwing rugs over a pack of dogs.”

Hazzard Homecoming began in earnest on Saturday amid a field of Hazzard County police cars and 1969 Dodge Chargers lovingly restored as General Lees, the Dukes’ vehicle of choice for outrunning those police cars.

The weekend featured all things Hazzard County, including autographs with the cast (at one point, the autograph line for Schneider’s tent was said to be seven hours long), live music and even a Hazzard County “stunt show,” where some of the series’ most famous moments were performed in front of a cheering crowd. 

Around 15,000 people flocked to Amissville over the weekend to spend some time with their childhood heroes. The event organizer, Rappahannock’s own Ben Jones (“Cooter” Davenport), performed with his Cooter’s Garage Band throughout the festival, mixing their original songs with some crowd favorites such as a cover of the Charlie Daniels Band’s hit “The Devil Went Down to Georgia.”

World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) helped out by sending some of its superstars down for the weekend, including fan favorite Jerry “The King” Lawler. Several professional BMX riders entertained the crowd by performing tricks while jumping over a race car, while a rock wall and water slide provided something for the kids and a temporary escape from the heat.

Saturday night featured a fireworks display, while Sunday concluded with the entire cast on stage together. “It’s been a few years since we all saw each other at one time, and this might be the last time we get to share a stage together,” said Jones. The cast took time to thank the crowd for coming out and showing their support for a show that’s still so clearly loved.

The show may have ended more than 20 years ago, but if this weekend proved anything, it’s that Hazzard County is still alive and well.