‘Dukes of Hazzard’ reunion repeat uncertain

wcrenshaw@macon.comJanuary 22, 2014 

A reunion of “The Dukes of Hazzard” cast members won’t be coming back to Byron this spring, but separate efforts are underway to have it later in the year.

The hugely successful event last March at Middle Georgia Raceway drew more than 50,000 people and was an economic boon for Byron.

Chris Jennings, who promoted the event last year, and Tim Thornton, the track’s owner, both said they are trying to organize a “Dukes” reunion later this year but at different locations.

Thornton wants to have the event again at the track, but Jennings said he is looking at having it at Angel City in Unadilla. Angel City is an Old-West themed facility built for bike rallies.

Neither Thornton nor Jennings had much to say about why they are no longer associated. Jennings promoted a monster truck rally at the track later in the year, and sometime after that, the two parted ways.

Jennings said Thornton wanted to “venture out on his own.” Thornton would say only that they are no longer associated, although he added Jennings does not owe him any money.

After the truck rally in June, Jennings was charged in Peach County with writing a bad check to one of the truck teams that performed in the show. The case is still pending, but Jennings said he plans to resolve it and expects the charge will be dismissed.

“I lost a lot of money on that monster truck show,” he said.

Peach County Sheriff Terry Deese said there were similar complaints from other performers after the show, but he said they were all paid before any criminal charges were filed.

According to an incident report, Jennings allegedly wrote a $20,000 check to one of the performers, but the check turned out to be for a closed account. Jennings was charged with felony theft by deception.

Thornton said he has no intention of having competing “Dukes” reunions. He said if Jennings gets the rally booked at Angel City and contracts signed with the “Dukes” stars, he will not continue to pursue a reunion himself.

Shortly after the reunion last year, Jennings said it would come back to the track again this year. He even later announced his intentions to have Burt Reynolds and Sally Field come this year to make it a joint reunion of “The Dukes of Hazzard” and “Smokey and the Bandit.”

Jennings said he still expects Reynolds to come this year but not Sally Field. The two starred in the cult classic movie that hit theaters about the same time that “Dukes” was among the top-rated TV shows in the nation.

Last year’s reunion brought together nearly all the surviving “Dukes” cast members who starred in the show.

The Middle Georgia Raceway, which hosted NASCAR Grand National races in the 1960s and early ‘70s, remained dormant for years until Thornton bought it. It has been used for numerous events but none more popular than the “Dukes” reunion.

Thornton said he is tentatively planning some events this year, including a moonshine festival this May, but he likely will scale back after some disappointing turnouts last year. A racers reunion had been held annually, but Thornton said it will not be back this year. He said it didn’t draw the crowd he was expecting when NASCAR legend Richard Petty came to the midstate last year.

To contact writer Wayne Crenshaw, call 256-9725.

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