The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on April 11, 2001 · Page 31
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 31

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Salina, Kansas
Issue Date:
Wednesday, April 11, 2001
Page:
Page 31
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THE SALINA JOURNAL APPLAUSE WEDNESDAY, APRIL 11, 2001 3 Billy Bob's Texas once again making honky-tonk history By SHIRLEY JINKINS FoH Worth Star-Telegram FORT WORTH, Ttexas — It's 1 am. on a chilly Friday night, and the rodeo horses are being unsaddled in the corral. The vapor from their noses mingles with the exhaust from the motor coaches, which are parked outside the doors marked "Backstage." Nearby, men in caps and women in tight jeans guzzle long- necks and smile through the cigarette-smoke haze. They're waiting for their moment with Willie, the country music legend and ageless bandanna-wearing cowboy who has just finished his last set. Just another night in honky- tonk heaven, otherwise known as Billy Bob's Texas. This saloon the size of a min- imall opened 20 years ago, on April 1,1981, in north Fori; Worth, and ever since it has built its legend as a country music shrine, a local watering hole, a cowboy theme park and an idealized vision of the Old West. Mention "Fort Worth" to any country music fan, and chances are, they'll smile and say, "Billy Bob's." If the stage could talk, it would' whisper in reverent tones about the many memorable per- formaaces of Willie, Waylon, Johnny and Merle. And it would shout Avith pride about helping laimch the careers of Garth, Reba, Shania and the Chicks. But the appeal of Billy Bob's has transcended its country roots -r- Ringo Starr played there, and so did Wayne Newton, Sammy Davis Jr., Chuck Berry, The Byrds and Marvin Gaye. Several movies have been filmed there, including Sylvester Stallone's ode to arm- wrestling, "Over the Top." Billy Bob's has even made it into the Guinness Book of World Records: m 1983, Merle Haggard bought a round of drinks for 5,095 people (as part of a promotion for his new song, "C.C.(Canadian Club) Watered Back"). ; But beyond the honky-tonk VHorker^s Special! $4.00 PER RIDE $3.50 Senior Citizens 785-819-1507 ALL FURNITURE ON SALE Your Full Line FURNITURE STORE InStore Financing BARRYS N2r,..-,7(i7 • l-ir, S. Ilniailvvay. Siiliiia M ..II.- I'll. • Sill. il::»)-ri:<HI legend, the club's owners and operators have had to balance this romantic vision of the West with econonuc realities. Billy Bob's, which closed in 1988 amid spiraling costs and management shake-ups, is once again the top cash cow for the Stockyards Historic District. It pumps more than $40 million into the local economy each year and draws nearly half a million visitors from Great Britain and Granbury, Luxembourg and Lake Worth. Europeans are ever fascinated by images of the Old West in America, and they pour into the Stockyards on packj^e tours, to shop for souvenirs and have their pictures taken astride a longhorn. According to Fort Worth Convention and Visitors Bureau figures, the three most popular attractions for foreign visitors to Fort Worth-Dallas are: Southfork Ranch, where "Dallas" was filmed; the area of Dallas where President John F. Kennedy's assassination took place; and Billy Half of pregnancies are unexpected. ;;^:(But that's not the real surprise.) It's that women can help reduce the risk of certain serious birth defects, Simply take a multivitamin with folic acid every day as part of a healthy diet, whedier or not you plan on a visit from the stork. For more information, contact die March of Dimes at 1-888-MODIMES or www.modimes.org March o/Dimes- Sii™«Wia,lH(«*<r 825-7476 Bob's Texas in Fort Worth. Ultimately, though, the club's owners know they can't forsake the cowboy-hatted faithfiil for the camera-toting tourists, BiUy Bob's remains a local hangout, a rocky foothold amid the shifting fortunes of coimtry music itself, an affirmation that as long as country stars climb on stage, fans will come, April 1, 1981, opening day at Billy Bob's Texas, was a real old- fashioned happening in Fort Worth. Shuttles carried revelers — many wearing formalwear and cowboy hats with elaborate feather bands — from downtown and the museum district to the opening-night gala "I was there for the "private' VIP opening party for 9,000," said Richard Fox, a Fort Worth businessman who has been a fixture at the club for two decades. (He and his wife, Nancy, even have their own parking space outside the door.) "It was 'private,' as in all of Fort Worth. That was the most people I've ever seen for a private party." Lany Gatlin and the Gatlin Brothers played opening night, and within the first week a stream of country music's elite, including Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings, had performed there. "I was out there the first night they had it, the grand opening," said Arlington radio personality Bill Mack. "It was sort of like the old Panther Hall atmosphere, only it was so much bigger From the start, everything about the 3-acre club has been massive, even gaudy. It had 40 bar stations, several restaurants A and specialty shops, a mirrored saddle instead of a disco ball over the dance floor, and live bull riding. Capacity was 6,000, and the main showroom seated 1,800. Headliners performed on the main stage every Friday and Sat- m-day lught, but the smaller Honky-Tonk Stage saw action every night, and has been the launching point for stars like George Strait, Reba McEntire, Travis TVitt and Alan Jackson. But for loyal fans like Fox, the club's grand scale hasn't really affected the Billy Bob's experi- This Sunday in... ence. "It hasn't really changed that much," he said. "It's worked for 20 years, so why change it now?" Billy Bob's roots run much deeper than two decades; its 100,000-square-foot building was constructed in 1910 as an open- air cattle bam. In 1936, a tower was added and the building was enclosed as part of a city centennial project. But during World War H, the vision changed. Warplanes were manufactured there for two years, and by the '50s it was a Clark's department store. E. Crawford Street Bistro & Cafe Salmon $-J ^Q50 Sunday Buffet ChickenFried $^750 Steak 1 f Customized Catering! Tues.-Sat. 11-2, 5-9 • Sunday 11-2 1200 E. Crawford • 827-2728 THANK YOU! Thanks to all my volunteers and supporters, and to the voters in the USD 305 District. Political Advertisement paid for by Gary Denning for USD 305 Scfioo! Board, Deanna Taibott, treasurer. inside.: interview with actor Paul Hogan, when good gadgets go bad, Lisa Ling on tragedy and triumph... '••^ Salina Journal imJSA Couiiccling cominunllics ivith i)ifor)ualion IVS^EKEND GreetmMs to the VJP Make someone's graduation even more special- include them in our Class of2001 Graduation Ad on Sunday, May 20th. Class of 2001 14 95 1 Your Name I Address j Phone Number— I Graduate's Name School Order Form I Please be sure to complete a separate form for each graduate you are honoring. ( Orders cannot be taken over the phone. Enclose a check, money order, or credit card number & the expiration date. Send your form, the photo(s) and payment to: I Salina Journal I Cmnecling communities with irjformtUion 333 S. Fourth, Salina. KS 67401 • 785-823-6363 • fax 823-3207 V email: sjclass@saljournal.com Includes photo, graduate name and school name. To include a message, add 10(P per word. Use this handy form and mail or bring your ad to the Salina Journal, 333 S, 4th St., by Friday, May 11th at 5:00 p.m. to include your graduate. *All graduate ads require prepayment. Photo may be picked up at the Salina Journal after Sunday, May 20. Salina Journal If photo is to be returned by mail, please include a self-addressed, stamped envelope with your order. Connecting communities with information I

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