The Chumuckla Opry House has long been the place to be on Saturday night for pickin’ and grinnin’ and everything in between.
But on Saturday, The Opry House was known for just one thing, and that was a place that many people would miss.
That’s because the entertainment venue just south of Jay closed its door Saturday after over a decade of entertainment. The decision was made by Sandy Wyatt, the owner of The Opry House.
“It was a big disappointment,” said Madeline Brunty, an RV’er said about the closure on Saturday. “It’s a pleasure to come here and listen to the music and eat their food.
“We’re gonna miss it.”
Brunty, who is from Panama City said this was her third year in a row she had come to the Classic Country Music Festival, which was held last Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
“You don’t get anybody nicer than Sandy (Wyatt) and his family,” Brunty said. “This is a really good place, and you don’t get anybody better than them.”
Wyatt, who was pickin’ on stage throughout the festival, said he sold the building to Living Truth Church, who for years had been meeting at Pace High School for their services.
“I’ve enjoyed it,” Wyatt said. “I’m just getting up there in age, and I’ve been doing it for a long time…I’m worn out.”
Wyatt, who is the president of Southland Homebuilders, a home construction business in Pace said working at both jobs has worn him out, but made him realize that people were going to miss his business.
People like John Rawls of Monroeville, Ala. who makes it a priority to make it to The Opry House one to two times a month.
“I recently heard about it (the closure),” Rawls said. “The music and the dinners and the country cooking, that’s what I’m going to miss.”
Bobby Eply Sr., who has lived in Milton for 11 years, said he understands why Wyatt has decided to close.
“Yeah, it’s a shock, but I can see why,” Eply said. “He (Wyatt) has been working seven days a week for 10 or 11 years.”
When asked what he would do once The Opry House closed for regular performances, Eply said he would have to find another hangout.
“I’ll just have to find another Opry House,” Eply said.
The Milton resident said that he and his wife of 54 years love the country hangout, but said no one should blame Wyatt for the decision.
“It’s upsetting, but it’s not his fault,” Eply said. “They’ve been doing it for 11 years and they have their day jobs too.”
For others like Carl Holloway of Geneva, Ala., the venue is a good place for him to get away for the weekend. The two-hour drive did not stop him from coming to the Classic Country Music Festival.
“It’s a good family place to go,” Holloway said.
Tom Patterson, who came out for the car show on Saturday at The Opry House agreed with Wyatt and his decision.
“Old man time has caught up with him,” Wyatt said. “I know a lot of people are upset, but you can’t blame him.”
Wyatt said that he would still like to host bigger country music events at the venue in the future. Right now, all of his efforts are being turned away from regular performances.
Wyatt won The Presidents’ Award from the Santa Rosa County Chamber of Commerce in 2007 for his hard work. The plaque still hangs on the wall near the entrance to the dining hall.
“I will miss it,” he said.