BYRON -- As Jeremy Frost headed for The Dukes of Hazzard Georgia Reunion on Saturday, he stopped at a convenience store and saw a familiar face.
Those who know Tom Wopat only from when he was last seen 28 years ago as Luke Duke probably wouldnt recognize him today, but Frost is an avid Dukes of Hazzard fan, to put it mildly. He knew it was Wopat, introduced himself, and the actor took time to chat and joke with him.
That kind of down-to-earth nature of the show and its cast may have a lot to do with why it still resonates today, when TV stars are known more for over-inflated egos than willingness to talk to fans who randomly appear.
Frost and his friend, Milton Darcus, from Smiths Station, Ala., are among the thousands of fans who descended on Byron for the reunion, which features seven cast members from the show, including Catherine Bach, who played Daisy Duke.
My first love was Daisy Duke, Frost said.
The two are mechanics, and their shop is called Hazzard County Garage. They restored a 1969 Dodge Charger as a replica of the General Lee, the famed bright-orange car from the show. They also restored a 1972 Dodge Monaco as a replica of the sheriffs patrol cars in the show. They brought both for the reunion, which included a car show.
Darcus hopes to eventually modify his General Lee so that he can jump it the way the Duke boys once did on a weekly basis.
Im crazy about the jumps, he said. My lifelong dream is to jump a car.
Cast members at the event include John Schneider (Bo Duke), Wopat, Bach, James Best (Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane), Sonny Shroyer (Deputy Enos Strate), Ben Jones (Cooter Davenport) and Rick Hurst (Deputy Cletus Hogg).
Each had a separate line of fans waiting to get autographs, and each line had more than a 100 people. Schneiders line was the longest, with at least 200 people at around noon.
The mostly blue-jeaned crowd looked about like what you would expect to see at a NASCAR race, except for an exorbitant amount of orange shirts and hats with the numbers 01, which was the number of the General Lee.
As Daisy Duke, Bach fluttered the heart of many a young man with her outfit of cut-off blue jeans shorts and a tied-off shirt. She wasnt wearing it Saturday, but at 59, looked like she could still do it justice.
Even she was hard-pressed to pinpoint why the show is still so popular today.
If I could figure that out, I would make five more of them, said Bach, who is currently on The Young and the Restless. I think part of it is that it was really about having a good time and being able to enjoy the show without worrying about letting your guard down that something horrible was going to happen.
Every fan of the show interviewed said they liked it most because of the family atmosphere, and Bach said that was no act. She said the cast remains close today.
I experienced a wonderful time on Dukes of Hazzard and I made a lot of friends and family, she said. This is my family.
Chris Jennings, who organized the reunion, said late Saturday afternoon he believed the crowd would total about 30,000 for the day. He expects for the weekend it will be close to the 60,000 that had been estimated. Traffic in and out was moving well, he said, but the parking maxed out and they enlisted some nearby businesses to provide additional parking.
The event began Friday and continues Sunday, but Saturday was the only day the cast would be there.
Scott Catron of Monticello, Ky., waited in line for more than two hours to get Wopats autograph. He goes to Dukes of Hazzard reunions all over the country. He wanted to get Wopats autograph because hes the one least often seen at the other events.
Catron owns DVDs of all seven seasons of the show and he said many of the cast members know him by name.
They are all super nice, he said.
To contact writer Wayne Crenshaw, call 256-9725.