BYRON, Ga. (AP) — When the “Dukes of Hazzard” reunion returns to Byron next year, it might be east bound and down and twice as big.
Organizer Chris Jennings announced Tuesday he is in talks with Burt Reynolds and Sally Field to make the show also a “Smokey and the Bandit” reunion. If that happens, he expects it could draw 100,000 people.
The “Dukes of Hazzard” reunion held a month ago drew 53,000 people and was estimated to have $1 million economic impact.
“‘Smokey and the Bandit’ has a huge following as large — if not larger — than the ‘Dukes of Hazzard,’ “Jennings said in a news conference at the Middle Georgia Raceway, where the reunion was held. “To bring all of these cast members together is absolutely historic.”
Released in 1977, two years before “Dukes of Hazzard” debuted, the movie had the same free-spirited, light-hearted action as the TV show, and a similar story line. Reynolds played Bo “Bandit” Darville on a high-speed, cross-country beer run with Jerry Reed as truck driver Cletus “Snowman” Snow. Field played the runaway bride picked up en route. Reed died in 2008 as a result of complications from emphysema. Jackie Gleason, who memorably played Sheriff Buford T. Justice, died of cancer in 1987.
Reynolds played Boss Hogg in the 2005 movie version of “Dukes of Hazzard.”
Perry Swanson, president of the Peach County Chamber of Commerce, said he believes it’s realistic to think 100,000 people could show next year if Reynolds and Field come.
“I think it could double in size,” he said.
Jennings said plans already are being made to cope with the crowd if that happens, including adding more parking. He believes it wouldn’t be a problem to deal with a crowd that size because the event would be spread over three days, March 8-10.
Mostly forgotten since its closure in 1984, the Middle Georgia Raceway is making a comeback under the ownership of Tim Thornton. He bought it six years ago with plans of developing a light-industrial park, but the economic downturn sent him in another direction.
“This is a lot more fun,” he said.
He has held vintage race car shows at the track and is planning several more events this year, including an extreme monster truck show in May in which fans will see a monster truck do a back flip. Another vintage race car show and concerts are being planned this year. TV commercials also have been filmed there.
Swanson said he contacted hotels and restaurants after the “Dukes of Hazzard” reunion, and most reported doing about two and half times the business they normally would for the same days. All of the hotels he talked to were full.
“Everybody’s been talking about it,” he said. “The place was packed, and it was a lot of fun.”
Information from: The Macon Telegraph.