Liberty Opry has some very sad news, co-owner Nina Cantu has reported. “We can no longer afford the operational cost and maintenance of the [Liberty Opy] facility and it has been sold,” she said.
“Our hearts are broken and it is definitely not what we wanted or dreamed of. The new owners will not continue to operate as an Opry -- they have other plans for the facility. We will continue to have shows at other venues and facilities. This is not the end, but instead a new beginning. We know we have the right show; now for the right location!”
The Liberty Opry’s next-to-last show at its current venue will be a Classic Oldies Show Saturday, Jan. 19 at 4 p.m. with music from the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s. Rex Harris, The Liberty Opry Band and Comedian “Booger Lee” will perform. Their very last show, Mix it Up!, will be Jan. 26, also at 4 p.m. and will feature the Opry Band singing a mix of country, oldies and gospel. They hope their fans will join them to help make these last two shows memorable ones.
Cantu gave some background of the group that found its place at the theatre in Liberty. The original owner, John Cox, opened the Opry in 1993, and his family owned and operated the Liberty Opry from 1993 until 2003. The Cox adults performed on stage every Friday and in two shows on Saturday for many years. Larry “Booger Lee” Etheridge has been the comedian for over 20 years. Ray Sowell has played guitar and emcee’d for more than 20 years with the Opry as well. The Cox family sold the Opry in 2003 to Bruce and Brenda Boehner and they carried on the tradition of family entertainment for seven years.
Jay and Nina Cantu bought the Opry in April 2010 from the Boehners. Nina said, “We also carried on the tradition of family entertainment ... a place where you could bring your grandparents AND your grandchildren. We only had shows on Saturdays but started offering specific shows on specific Saturdays -- first Saturday was always gospel night, second Saturday was oldies, third was country, and the fourth was a mix. The last three to four years, we started having specialty shows on the fourth Saturday -- bigger named entertainers -- trying to draw new people in and keep the interest up.”
She continued, “We have had the privilege of playing for guest stars such as Jeannie Seely, Stephen Pride, Marty Haggard, Johnny Rodriguez, Michael Twitty, Michael and Ginny Hix, The Coasters, and The Platters, just to name a few. We always said, ‘When you walk through our doors, you become part of our family’ and we always tried to treat people in that way.”
Cantu said of the current band, “It’s a great band and so versatile; we can play anything you throw at us! Many people have told us through the years we are as good as any band or show in Branson and you don’t have to travel as far or pay as much! The band wants to stay together, so we are searching for places to play -- we already have six shows booked at the Baytown Community Center for 2019.”
Cantu concluded, “We have had an amazing time bringing clean, wholesome, family entertaiment to people and it breaks our hearts that after 25 years we have to close the doors. Our plan is to keep our website at libertyopry.com updated with future shows and we will be called The Liberty Band. You can also follow us on Facebook and tag along on our new adventure. We’ll give you great music and lots of fun!”