NASHVILLE, Tenn (WKRN) — For the first time in 29 weeks, a live audience was back in the stands at the Grand Ole Opry this weekend.
Saturday night’s show featured Vince Gill, Lorrie Morgan, Terri Clark, and Dierks Bentley all in celebration of the venue’s 95th anniversary.
For the past 4,944 consecutive Saturdays, The Opry has broadcasted the best acts that country music has to offer. They’ve kept the music alive through world wars, The Great Depression, and now a global pandemic.
COVID-19 closed the venue to fans back in mid-March, but they continued the show on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and WSM radio amongst other streaming platforms.
Saturday night 500 fans filled the seats at a social distance. Some had been waiting six months for The Opry to re-open, others like Darlene Williams told News 2 they’d been waiting six decades.
“I was so elated. I have been waiting for this for 60 years. The banjos. The music. The fiddles. It just really impressed me as a youngster,” Williams said.
Hilary Saporta and her husband, Bernie Diaz, drove all the way from Fort Lauderdale, Florida to Music City after learning they were 2 of the lucky 500 ticket holders selected.
“It’s an institution right? I’m not really a big country western fan but I’ve developed a respect for it,” Diaz said.
“I’m a closet country fan. He always gets in my car and there is country music on and he’s like where did that come from,” Saporta said.
Inside The Opry masks are mandatory for all guests and staff, there are designated entry and exit points, nd there is no food or beverage service.
“We feel very comfortable that they’re doing a great job,” Saporta said.
In a press release Opry Vice President and Executive Producer, Dan Rogers, said he was excited to see familiar faces back in The Opry but will be “truly happy” when they can return to normal, full capacity.
“With gratitude to the artists who have visited the Opry since March, staff members and partners who have ensured the Opry went on every Saturday, and a worldwide audience for tuning in over the past six months, we are so excited as we plan to welcome fans back to the Opry House,” Rogers said. “So many loyal fans make plans early to be a part of our birthday weekend every year, and I am especially excited that many of those devoted familiar faces will be in the first in-house audience since late last winter. Of course we will only be truly happy when we can return to capacity audiences and full Opry shows that are known around the world.”
Until things do return to normal, the Grand Ole Opry says they will strictly comply with Metro Nashville’s public health guidelines to ensure guest and performer safety.
For tickets and information on upcoming Opry performances, click here.