Opry purchase fulfills couple’s dream
For Annie and Terry Dunavin, owning an opry had been a longtime dream.
The Eudora couple began living that dream two weeks ago when they purchased Glen's Opry in downtown Tonganoxie.
"As soon as we heard it was for sale, we started putting things in motion," Terry Dunavin said.
The process took several months. But that gave the Dunavins plenty of time to visit the opry on Saturday nights and get to know the music house's regulars. From all indications, the couple's been warmly received by frequent opry patrons.
"Our first show was pretty much a sellout," Annie Dunavin said.
And now, Tonganoxie's opry has a new name and new owners.
This weekend, visitors to the Tonganoxie Days festival will have an opportunity to tour Annie's Country Jubilee, which will be open to the public from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.
"We'd like folks to step in and see what we're all about," Annie said.
And the Miss Tonganoxie pageant is slated for Friday night at Annie's Country Jubilee.
"This is no profit to us," Annie said. "We're just letting them use our building."
Broadening the opry's participation in the Tonganoxie area is important, the couple said.
"We want to become a part of that community," Terry said.
Annie had aspired for years to launch a singing career. But it wasn't until she married Dunavin, her second husband, that she moved on that dream.
"I didn't even know she could sing," he said.
But on the couple's honeymoon about 14 years ago in Florida, Annie surprised him and took the stage with a one-man band. Her husband was so impressed that they started working on her career -- together.
"Annie performs, and I can't sing a lick," Terry said.
But he always wanted to operate his own business.
Back in the Midwest, Annie entered a contest sponsored by an Iowa opry. She took second place.
"I'd never sung with a band before, and I was scared to death," she said.
The following year, she won the contest, which guaranteed her a spot in the opry's show.
After that Iowa showing, she was on the road and traveled nearly every weekend to opry gigs in Missouri, Iowa and Kansas. She's made two CDs: "Annie" and "Come on Time." Terry produced the second one.
But neither she nor Terry has quit their day jobs. She works in inventory monitoring and production planning for Del Monte Pet Foods in Lawrence. And Terry is project manager for SpecBo Inc., which has the contract to provide maintenance for the former Sunflower Army ammunition plant near De Soto.
And while Annie still will occasionally travel to other opries to perform, she's eager to stay closer to home.
"That's one thing nice about this," she said. "We can drive 10 miles up the road."
The Dunavins plan a few changes, including some upgrades to the building. They also hope to add on to the east side of the structure, which can seat about 300.
They won't change one mainstay -- the opry band. They do hope to attract some Nashville performers to their stage. And perhaps they'll open their doors to bluegrass or gospel musicians on Friday nights.
And the Dunavins are sold on customer service.
"We want to make sure out guests are taken care of and people get their money's worth," Annie said.