As an added benefit to those thinking about scooping up some last-minute tickets for this Saturday’s 7th annual Williams Lake Dance Club Reunion — or those who have had theirs for months now — a pre-party meet and greet is on tap for Friday (tonight) at Coharie Country Club.
The reunion is set for this Saturday, Aug. 16, at the Sampson County Agri-Exposition Center. It annually hosts hundreds of former Williams Lake regulars who come out to reminisce on the good times while raising money for local civic and outreach organizations.
Over 400 tickets have already been sold for Saturday’s event, with at least 500 expected to be sold by Saturday. However, some crowds for the reunion have hovered over 600 so there is plenty more room, event organizer Robert Honeycutt said Thursday.
“Even when we sell out we can still get some more tables,” said Honeycutt, who promised no one would be turned away. “They will be guaranteed a ticket if they (choose to) buy it at the door. It’s just a matter of setting up another table and a chair.”
And he suggested that those wishing to purchase a last-minute ticket do so on Friday rather than at Saturday’s event so they can take advantage of a new addition — a pre-party meet and greet with some of the main performers. That was put into motion a few weeks back when it was realized that the musicians’ schedules permitted it and they were up for it.
“The artists just happened to be available Friday night and we decided to try to put something together,” Honeycutt remarked. “It’s a new addition this year.”
And while some last-minute tickets have been available in the past, it has not been advertised.
“This year we are kind of advertising,” said Honeycutt.
If purchased in time, the $40 tickets are good for both Friday’s meet and greet and Saturday’s social and concert. Friday’s meet and greet will be held from 8-10 p.m. at Coharie Country Club in Clinton with headliner Archie Bell, “Mr. Tighten Up” himself, on hand along with Angel Rissoff and Danny Wood.
Saturday’s social and free pig picking will kick off from 3-6:30 p.m. The Ginger Thompson Band will play from 4-6:30 p.m. leading up to the main attraction from 7-11:30 p.m.
As part of that main attraction, from 7-9:30 p.m., Archie Bell will be playing his hits, followed by Danny Woods (formerly with Chairmen of the Board) and The Party Prophets with Cindy Floyd, New York Blues Hall of Famer Angel Rissoff and Clifford Curry.
From 9:30-11:30 p.m., North Tower, Tony Davis, Carlie Barbour and the Williams Lake Allstar Band will perform.
John Moore, of WNCT 107.9 FM, will serve as the master of ceremonies and Robert Stroud of “Boogie Shoes” Network, 1170 WCLN and 1440 WBLA, will serve as the DJ.
Williams Lake was open from 1932 to 1970 off U.S. 13 in the Mingo Township and owned by the late Clayton and Lillian Williams. Honeycutt, who managed Williams Lake from 1965-69, spearheaded the reunion in 2008 and the event has sold out every year, as big names — the majority of which played Williams Lake during its heyday — have entertained a capacity crowd.
While it now stands vacant, in the time it stood, Williams Lake was the place to be, boasting an incredible list of entertainers who played the venue, including Pieces of Eight, Buddy Skipper and The Jetty Jumpers, The O’Kaysions, The Majestics, The Tams, Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs, Jackie Wilson and many others.
“Some of these people are coming back after 45 years,” Honeycutt has said. “That’s the impact the place had on people, and we didn’t even know what we had.”
The lake left fond memories, which are able to be revisited through the reunion each year.
“Most people didn’t realize at the time that it was one of the most unique places around,” Honeycutt stated. “It’s basically a Williams Lake crowd that shows up each year. It brings back a lot of memories. It’s like a big family reunion, for the musicians too.”
Along with the response he gets from the old Williams Lake crowd, and the nostalgia, fellowship and good music the bash brings each year, Honeycutt said a large part of what fuels the reunion is the positive impact it has on the community.
All net proceeds are donated to charities and over the years the event has raised more than $40,000 for numerous organizations, including Relay for Life, the Sampson County Department of Aging, the Lions Club, the Shriner’s Childrens’ Hospital Fund, the Wounded Warriors Project, the Sampson County Meth Task Force and others.
For more information about the show or to inquire about tickets, call Robert Honeycutt at 910-214-2858 or Chris Matthews at Ford of Clinton, at 910-592-6056.
Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-249-4616. Follow us on twitter @SampsonInd.