The Huttos drove more than four hours and battled car trouble to hear three men with long beards call ducks and tell funny stories.
To the unenlightened, it wasn’t any more than that — a few humorous one-liners, the quack of a duck call and a “Hey Jack” thrown in for good measure.
For the thousands in attendance who saw the cast of the reality TV smash Duck Dynasty, it was much more.
Tommy Hutto and his family started watching Duck Dynasty just seven episodes ago, halfway through the show’s third season. They liked the show so much they started looking online for nearby Duck Dynasty public appearances. Dothan is about 250 miles from the Huttos in Bethlehem, Ga., but close enough for a day-trip.
After Willie, Phil and Si Robertson hit the stage Saturday at the Heritage Farm Day and Trail Ride at the Maddox Farm, Tommy Hutto said he was glad he came.
The phenomenal success of Duck Dynasty, Hutto said, has something to do with the fear that the country is moving in a direction away from the dinner table at the end of each Duck Dynasty episode.
“America — with all the stuff going on now — it’s bad,” Hutto said. “We started watching this show just a while back and we were like ‘there is something different about these people.’”
Hutto grew up watching The Waltons, a popular television series in the 1970s. Each show ended with the family turning out the bedroom light and saying good night to each other after dealing with a situation that led to a moral solution.
When Hutto saw the Robertsons praying at the dinner table to close out each episode, he thought about John, Olivia and Grandpa Walton.
“We just need something like this,” Hutto said.
A significant portion of America agrees. Duck Dynasty’s Season 3 finale drew monster ratings, shattering the record for the cable network A&E.
Their appearance Saturday at the Heritage Farm Day and Trail Ride marked the Duckmen’s second appearance in Dothan in less than two months, but it didn’t stop tons of people from the Wiregrass, and beyond, to come see them again.
Their message resonates with many in the conservative South.
“We love the Second Amendment. We love hunting, fishing and we love the Bible. We love the Lord and we’re from the South,” Willie Robertson said. “We might start having an influence on Hollywood and politics. Who knows?”
Willie Robertson said the show’s appeal is partly due to the clean content.
“We just try to be positive. You can sit down and watch it with your kids and not have to worry about all the filth that is on TV,” he said.
The Robertsons share an unapologetic evangelical Christian message at most of their public appearances. Saturday was no exception.
“You have a 6-foot hole waiting on you,” Phil Robertson said. “You ain’t coming out unless there is some divine intervention.”
Willie, Phil and Si spent part of Saturday meeting children from the Alabama Baptist Children’s Home and Wiregrass Children’s Home. Saturday’s event served as a fundraiser for the Alabama Baptist Children’s Home.
Kim McGainey, Southeast Area Director for the Alabama Baptist Children’s Home, said the Duckmen were heroes to many of the children.
“One of our children came away from the meet and greet promising to never wash his hands again,” she said.
McGainey said the Alabama Baptist Children’s home serves about 4,000 children annually through their residential home, foster parent, counseling and family care ministries.
Follow Lance Griffin on Twitter @EagleLance