Jaydin Gravette sported a fake beard he got for Christmas, taking on the look of his favorite characters of "Duck Dynasty."
“They’re all just a big rag-tag team,” the 10-year-old Gravette said. “I like how they are. They’re really good people. I’ve been waiting on them a long time.”
So had many others who filled the Dothan Civic Center on Friday night to get a glimpse of the stars of the top-rated reality TV show on A&E – Phil, Willie, Jase and Si Robertson – who work at the multi-million dollar family business in West Monroe, La., making duck calls.
“It’s been nuts,” Willie Robertson said of the popularity of the TV series, which is entering its second season. “The growth of the show has been crazy, business has done good. A lot of folks are showing up and it looks like a lot of people are enjoying the show.”
Friday night’s event, which sold out in less than two weeks, benefitted the Dothan Rescue Mission. The characters known as the Duckmen now make numerous personal appearances throughout the country to help raise money for worthy causes and to share their Christian beliefs.
“We are all men of faith and women of faith,” Willie said of the family. “I think it comes through on the show and to be able to do events like this is great.
“This is not only a way to spread our message, but also be with the fans so they get to see you up close and hear you talk. I think that’s a good thing.”
Willie is the CEO of Duck Commander, the name of the business started in 1972 by his father, Phil. Willie’s brother Jase is in charge of manufacturing the duck calls. Si – short for Silas – is the youngest brother of Phil and also works at the shop.
“To the level at how it’s doing good has surprised us,” Willie said. “Being the number one show on cable – the numbers are just crazy and the fans love it. It gives us a good platform to do the things we want to do and events like this.”
Chris Grandstaff, the marketing director of the Dothan Rescue Mission, made the flight with the Duckmen from West Monroe to Dothan on Friday. He says the group is very much like they appear on TV.
“They’re very appreciative, very laid back,” Grandstaff said. “Exactly what you see on TV. They are very open about their faith.
“If you watch the show, you know they are strong with family and strong with faith.”
Before the show at the Civic Center, a meet and greet dinner was held at Southside Baptist Church.
“I need to get my tea jug,” Si said in the hall before entering to visit with the fans and pose for photos at the dinner.
Si’s glass of sweet tea and the comical stories he shares on the show have made him among the most popular of the characters. He’s a Vietnam War veteran who is also quick to talk about his days in combat.
“I started out with 36 of them and I’ve got three of the originals left,” Si said during the show of the kind of cups he always drinks tea from. “These things have traveled all over Europe, all over the United States and different places I was stationed.
“You can run over these things with a pickup truck and all it will do is shoot them out like a torpedo,” he said to laughs from the crowd.
While Si takes a more light-hearted approach during shows, Phil uses the opportunity to share his Christian stance.
“I know I look like I’m a preacher, but I’m not a preacher,” Phil said from the stage.
Yet at the end of his speech, he said a prayer and most of those in attendance bowed their heads.
The crowd then gave him a standing ovation as he exited the stage.
At the end of every TV show, the family is shown sharing dinner together following a prayer.
Willie said the family decided from the beginning to end each show that way.
“It’s the same dinner table that we sat at as kids. There’s a lot more food on it now than when we were younger,” Willie added with a laugh.
“I think it’s a time for us to get together as a family and learn a lesson. I think that’s what makes the show special.”
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