Cooper Lake Center to feature Gene Watson Sept. 30
From Staff Reports

August 21, 2006 - Cooper Lake Center will stage the second outdoor concert in its history Saturday, Sept. 30, giving its Meadow Stage to country artist Gene Watson.

Tickets for the concert, which begins at 7 p.m., may be purchased at the Hopkins County Chamber of Commerce for $15, or at the gate for $18. Purchasers may also order tickets with major credit cards by calling 1-888-439-2196.

Chamber of Commerce president Bill Elliott, who also sits on the board of directors of Cooper Lake Center, said the Watson concert  is clear evidence that the Center is beginning to fulfill the hopes of its founders.

"This is a name artist performing to an audience that, in some instances, will be coming from a hundred miles out," Elliott said. "We have a great venue out there, and Gene Watson is going to show it off for us."

Wade White of Paris and his Plain Label Band will open for Watson, who has built a strong following over decades by sticking with traditional country.

"This is why so many Gene Watson fans keep coming back for more," Elliott said. "When he gets up there and starts to sing, people just start nodding their heads up and down -- he's singing their music."

The Watson concert will be on the Center's Meadow Stage rather than the amphitheater, which is still abuiliding. The Meadow Stage, a towering structure of tubular metal, can be quickly dismantled and trucked long distances -- exactly what happened several years ago when Willie Nelson rented it for one of his Fourth of July concerts.

Those coming to the Watson concert should bring lawn chairs, Elliott said.

The Chamber official said things other than entertainment are taking root at Cooper Lake Center.

"We have a beautifully reconstructed log structure that was originally built in Commerce," he said. "It was on its way to being a ruin when Texas A&M-Commerce came to the rescue and paid for a reconstruction.

"It stands on Center land now, after having been moved log by log, and because of the families that figured in its history, its known as the Rhodes-Wilkins Log House. It’s ready for school groups to visit. I like that fact that it was a polling place in the 1850's when Sam Houston won the governorship."

In addition, Elliot said, a nature trail, funded in part by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, will be built later this year with the help of Scouts and other volunteers. Part of the loop will be paved for wheelchairs, he said. 

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