Upcoming Gene Watson concert at Cooper Lake Center bringing more business to broad area
From Staff Reports

Sept. 20, 2006 -- Businesses over a wide area have a stake in the Gene Watson concert to be performed Saturday, Sept. 30, at Cooper Lake Center.

Cooper Lake Center is near Birthright, about 15 miles north of Sulphur Springs and 25 miles south of Paris.

"People may not realize it, but above and beyond what the performers get paid, it costs thousands of dollars to put on a concert and all but a few of those dollars go to small businesses," said Karl Kerr, president of the South Sulphur Regional Development Association.

SSRDA is the developer of Cooper Lake Center and, therefore a sponsor, as well, of the Sept. 30 concert.

"Our food service and, for that matter, our rental toilets, will be provided by companies in Paris," Kerr said. "Our rain insurance and some of our stage lights are coming from Commerce, our printing was done in Sulphur Springs — the list goes on and on," Kerr said. "And when you start looking at newspaper ads, you have to go as far south as Tyler and up across the Red River to Hugo, Idabel and Antlers."

Some Gene Watson fans willingly drive several hours to attend one of their idol's concerts, and this loyalty should mean a boost for the lodging industry, according to Kerr.

"It almost looks like we set out to have Cooper Lake Center be a catalyst for economic development, and in a sense, we did," he said, noting that SSRDA's incorporation papers underscored economic development, particularly in the hospitality industry, as a priority.

Tickets for the concert are $15 in advance and $18 at the gate. Tickets may be purchased at chambers of commerce in Lamar, Hunt, Hopkins and Delta counties, at Penny's Cafe on State Highway 19 north of Birthright, or by calling 1-888-439-2186.

The gates at Cooper Lake Center will open at 5 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 30, The concert begins at 7 p.m. Lawn chairs are recommended.

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