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Annual Opry raises funds for youth scholarships
Ronnie Ezzell and Amy Kornegay performed together at Friday's Opry. (GRAPHIC PHOTOS BY AMANDA CLARK)

The first ever Opry hosted by Nashville's Business and Professional Women (BPW) was held 39 years ago and lasted for 12 straight hours.

BPW President Barbara Tyre said auctions were held in between each of the performances and lots of fun was had by all who attended.

Tyre said she recalls auctioning off a pig and a chicken at the first event, thanks to a donation from a local farmer.

Times have changed but the purpose of the event is just as important today, Tyre added.

The 39th annual Elsie Clark Memorial Opry was held on Friday night at Nash Arts and raised money for a scholarship fund, which is presented to local youth.

The organization typically tries to award scholarships to two youth.

Tyre said though this year's event did not bring in the attendance she had hoped, the performances were great and she was pleased with the support.

"We're very grateful to the people who support us and come out to the event," she said.

Each year, performers volunteer their time to perform at the annual event.

Ronnie Ezzell and Linda Ripke have both been a fixture at the Opry. Ezzell's own two children have benefitted from the scholarship and Ezzell continues to volunteer his time to help with the organization's fund-raiser.

"We're very grateful for the awesome talent that's in our area and people giving of themselves and their talent to make this happen," Tyre said.

On Saturday, Ezzell said he looked forward to the 40th Opry and hoped more people would turn out.

Tyre agreed.

"We look forward to it being the biggest and best yet," she added.


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