Opry ending after 10 years

Photo by Mark Schneider

Photo by Mark Schneider

COVINGTON -- It's been 10 years of good music and good times at the Newborn Opry, but now it's time to move on.

The Opry's last show, "Christmas Spectacular," will take place at 5 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 18, at the Newborn Schoolhouse at 4326 Ga. Highway 142, and founder Bob Thompson promises it will be jam-packed with performances of Christmas, country and gospel tunes.

Thompson and his wife Wilma started the Opry a decade ago, and since then it has proven to be a popular attraction two Saturdays a month. But the Opry had to take a yearlong hiatus while the schoolhouse was under renovations, and during that time Thompson decided to focus on other endeavors, such as The Bob Roberts Show, a magic comedy show he performs all over the state.

"(The Opry) was consuming a lot of my time. We're getting older and we decided it's time to get out. We're hoping someone else will operate it," Thompson said, noting that some folks have shown interest in keeping some type of musical show going at the school, but he doesn't know the details.

"I'm not sure if they're going to do it, but I hope they do. People enjoy going down there," he said, noting that the Opry has become a social event for some who come to every performance, especially older folks.

Thompson, a former emcee at the Grand Ole Opry, was able to draw nationally known gospel and country music acts to town over the years, including Dixie Echoes, The Jody Brown Indian Family, The Freemans, Mark Trammell Quartet and Lulu Roman of "Hee Haw" fame. Perhaps the most famous performer to ever grace the stage there was Earl Scruggs, who gave a surprise performance of his hit "Foggy Mountain Breakdown" a couple of years ago.

"That crowd went wild," Thompson said.

In addition to famous musicians, the Opry has given lots of local entertainers a chance to shine.

"We're just proud of what we've done in 10 years. We pray about things and we think the Lord wants us to get out right now. Maybe some young people will get in there," Thompson said, adding that he thanks all the musicians and other entertainers, patrons and donors who have supported the Opry over the years.

"This place is in our hearts. We've had good times down there and blessings down there," he said.