The mighty 'Duck' dynasty brings reality-show family to Rupp Arena

mmeehan1@herald-leader.comSeptember 26, 2013 

  • Meet the Robertsons

    These Duck Dynasty family members are scheduled to appear Sunday at Rupp Arena.

    Willie: CEO of Duck Commander, the family duck-call business, this brother has the unenviable task of trying to wrangle the rest of his more leisure-inclined crew. But even he can't help but show his own wild side sometimes.

    Korie: She met Willie, her husband, in the third grade when he asked her to go on a moonlit walk at summer camp. They married the year after high school and now have five kids. She is the Duck Commander office manager.

    Sadie: Korie and Willie's 16-year-old daughter, she has suffered through her father and uncles harassing her boyfriend in the woods and dress shopping with Willie. She made her modeling debut this month at New York Fashion Week.

    John Luke: Willie and Korie's 17-year-old son, he told TC magazine he tries to be a gentleman even as girls have literally thrown themselves at him. A girl hurled herself over a fence at a concert, he told the Christian publication for teens. "Her legs were still on the fence," he said. "I didn't want her to fall, but I still had to try to gently toss her back."

    Miss Kay: Mother to the four Robertson boys and wife of Phil, she is known for getting her way, often with a smile and plate of something delicious straight from the oven. She has had a series of dogs name Jessie.

    Alan: He's known as the beard-less brother, although even he stops shaving for duck season. He had spent much of his life as a preacher but recently rejoined the family business and makes appearances on the show.

  • Cooking with Miss Kay

    For more recipes from Miss Kay go to AETV.com/duck-dynasty/recipes

    Banana pudding

    2 sticks butter

    2 cups sugar

    1 teaspoon salt

    ¾ cup all-purpose flour

    1 can (12 ounces) Pet Milk (evaporated milk)

    ¾ cup milk

    6 egg yolks

    1 teaspoon vanilla extract

    1 bag vanilla wafers

    2 bananas, sliced

    In a large double boiler, melt butter and then add sugar, salt, flour, evaporated milk and regular milk. Stir with a whisk.

    Add egg yolks to the mixture, constantly stirring until thick. Add vanilla extract.

    Place vanilla wafers and bananas into a 9- by 13-inch Pyrex dish, then cover with pudding.

    Chill before serving.

  • IF YOU GO

    Faith, Family and Ducks: An Afternoon With the Robertsons of A&E's 'Duck Dynasty'

    What: Members of Duck Dynasty's Robertson family — Willie, Korie, Sadie, John Luke, Miss Kay and Al — appear at a benefit for Frankfort Christian Academy

    When: 3 p.m. Sept. 29

    Where: Rupp Arena, 430 W. Vine St.

    Tickets: $42-$225. Available at (859) 233-3535, Rupparena.com or Ticketmaster, 1-800-745-3000 or Ticketmaster.com.

    ON TV

    'Duck Dynasty'

    10 p.m. Wednesdays on A&E

    Online: AETV.com/duck-dynasty

The interview was to feature Miss Kay Robertson, the dark-haired matriarch of America's current favorite television family. But those familiar with A&E's superhot reality show Duck Dynasty won't be surprised that Miss Kay has a way of wandering off.

So, the 1:45 p.m. interview didn't happen at 2 p.m. or 2:45 or 3. About 4:15, the phone rang. It was Kay's oldest son, Alan.

"Will your mom be joining us?" was the first question.

"Well, we don't know exactly where she is right now," said Alan, with an amused tone that said he's had this conversation many times. But, he added brightly, "If she shows up, we will put her on speaker phone."

Miss Kay never turned up.

Still, there are no hard feelings because she is Miss Kay, and, surely, she was busy cooking up a mess of frog legs or otherwise making her husband of nearly 50 years, Phil, "happy, happy, happy."

So it was the latest Robertson family member to join the Duck Dynasty cast, Alan, a former pastor known as the brother without a beard, who chatted about his famous family, their faith and what is up with Uncle Si.

Central Kentucky fans will have a chance to see some members of the family at an event called Faith, Family and Ducks: An Afternoon With the Robertsons of A&E's Duck Dynasty.

The mammoth title suits the big event, presented by Frankfort Christian Academy and scheduled for 3 p.m. Sunday at Rupp Arena. Tickets range from $42 to $225, and the price includes a meet-and-greet. (The family previously appeared at the Kentucky State Fair in August and will be in Mayfield, in Western Kentucky, on Saturday.)

Organizers said they hope to draw 3,000 to 4,000 people and raise enough to add heating and air to the gym that was built six years ago. Principal Kim Burgess is a fan of the Robertson clan, and the school had to release more of those pricey VIP tickets last week because only two were left.

So if you aren't one of the record- breaking 11.8 million viewers who watched the fourth-season premiere of Duck Dynasty on Aug. 14 or if you haven't walked into a Wal-Mart lately and seen the avalanche of product tie-ins, here are the Duck Dynasty basics.

The pitch for the reality show went something like this: Crazy, bearded family from West Monroe, La., has friction and shenanigans as one brother, Willie, tries to wrangle his more leisure-focused kin to keep the family duck-call business afloat.

The beards are wild and thick, as are the antics and the accents. There's lots of camouflage and sweet tea and loud trucks. Yet, unlike the current crop of "hicksploitation" shows on TV, the Robertsons are smart and articulate. They're also multimillionaires from the success of the family duck-call business, Duck Commander.

Also setting it apart: The show ends each episode with a family dinner and a prayer and, somehow, beneath all the fur and shooting at, skinning or blowing stuff up, there is real heart.

Alan explains the G-rated focus of the show as a throwback to old-fashioned sitcoms like The Andy Griffith Show that celebrated small-town life and multigenerational families.

What will you see if you go to Rupp? Pretty much what the title promises: lots of talk of family and faith and ducks.

The TV show doesn't delve into it much, but Alan said the Robertson family has not been without its problems. There was a period of about 10 years when Phil struggled to be the father and husband he was meant to be. In an online interview, Miss Kay said she told her boys at the time that their father had the devil in him. Alan said that during those tough times, the family barely got by. Faith, he said, pulled them through and continues to be an important part of family life.

Alan said Phil got things together and started the duck-call business in 1972 in a shack by the river near the family home. A different life from what could have been took hold. (The house is much the same as in the lean days, Alan said, but a few rooms have been added for Miss Kay. "She has a bit of a hoarding problem," he said.)

Decades later, that business was thriving under the leadership of Willie, now CEO of Duck Commander. That made the Robertsons kind of rock stars in the waterfowl world, he said. Before Duck Dynasty, the clan appeared on a show for the Outside Channel, Alan said. But now it is duck, duck, whooosh — the Robertson are everywhere.

Alan has joined the on-camera cast this season, leaving the ministry to help the ever-growing family entertainment business. His title has been reported as "beauty and beard wrangler" because the burly, bewhiskered bros all have elegant and beautiful wives.

So, seriously, what's up with the beards? Alan said his dad, Phil, and his uncle, Si, have had their ZZ Top-worthy beards for years. Alan said his father claims that "it's cool in the summer and warm in the winter," although the humidity and the Louisiana heat make that unlikely.

It is also a family tradition for brothers Alan, Jase, Willie and Jep not to shave — or bathe, if you believe the show — in preparation for duck-hunting season. Alan said that as the show has caught on, the beards have become more or less a permanent family fixture.

"Jase says shaving off the beard would be like joining the witness protection program," Alan said. "He could walk into Wal-Mart, and no one would recognize him."

That would indeed be impressive, because the Duck Commander family is this year's merchandising juggernaut. According to The New York Times, Duck Dynasty merchandise is in six departments at Wal-Mart. But it doesn't take an East Coast intellectual or, as Phil would say with disdain, "a yuppie" to notice the family mugs on mugs, pillows, shirts, school supplies, hunting gear, bobbleheads, sunglasses, ... you get the idea.

Alan said the family oversees and approves Duck Commander merchandise through its website, Duckcommander.com, but A&E is in charge of the licensing contracts for the show. Sometimes, he said, he'll discover a familiar face in an unexpected place. "I do like the Chia Willie," Alan said. It's a Chia Pet that grows a beard instead of hair.

Each of the Robertson clan, from Willie's sweet daughter Sadie to meandering Miss Kay, has made a connection with the audience. But none has had quite the impact of Uncle Si.

Known, jack, for having faith that he can fix, drive or hunt just about anything better than anyone else, Si is a larger-than-life character. Is it fueled by the 2 gallons of iced tea he drinks each day, or is it just for the show? (And, yes, Alan said, it is just plain old Southern tea, not the Long Island variety.)

Most of the family personalities come through as pretty true to form, Alan said, but Si "has had to be toned down" for the show.

Even muted, Si's personality apparently hits a sweet spot with the ladies. Alan said his uncle gets several marriage proposals a month. One woman drove hundreds of miles to an appearance, thinking she would just take him home with her.

Because Si's wife doesn't appear on the show, fans might be surprised to know that Si has been married for more than 40 years to a woman he met in Kentucky.

Speaking of Kentucky, Alan recently learned that this weekend's event would be at Rupp Arena.

"I was pretty excited about that," he said.

As fans of Southeastern Conference basketball, Alan said, the Robertsons are fully aware and in awe of the building's storied history.

Still, he said, whether on the court or the field, the Robertsons cheer for Louisiana State University.

If that gets out to the Big Blue Nation, they'd better believe in prayer.

IF YOU GO

Faith, Family and Ducks: An Afternoon With the Robertsons of A&E's 'Duck Dynasty'

What: Members of Duck Dynasty's Robertson family — Willie, Korie, Sadie, John Luke, Miss Kay and Al — appear at a benefit for Frankfort Christian Academy

When: 3 p.m. Sept. 29

Where: Rupp Arena, 430 W. Vine St.

Tickets: $42-$225. Available at (859) 233-3535, Rupparena.com or Ticketmaster, 1-800-745-3000 or Ticketmaster.com.

ON TV

'Duck Dynasty'

10 p.m. Wednesdays on A&E

Online: AETV.com/duck-dynasty

Cooking with Miss Kay

For more recipes from Miss Kay go to AETV.com/duck-dynasty/recipes

Banana pudding

2 sticks butter

2 cups sugar

1 teaspoon salt

¾ cup all-purpose flour

1 can (12 ounces) Pet Milk (evaporated milk)

¾ cup milk

6 egg yolks

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 bag vanilla wafers

2 bananas, sliced

In a large double boiler, melt butter and then add sugar, salt, flour, evaporated milk and regular milk. Stir with a whisk.

Add egg yolks to the mixture, constantly stirring until thick. Add vanilla extract.

Place vanilla wafers and bananas into a 9- by 13-inch Pyrex dish, then cover with pudding.

Chill before serving.

Meet the Robertsons

These Duck Dynasty family members are scheduled to appear Sunday at Rupp Arena.

Willie: CEO of Duck Commander, the family duck-call business, this brother has the unenviable task of trying to wrangle the rest of his more leisure-inclined crew. But even he can't help but show his own wild side sometimes.

Korie: She met Willie, her husband, in the third grade when he asked her to go on a moonlit walk at summer camp. They married the year after high school and now have five kids. She is the Duck Commander office manager.

Sadie: Korie and Willie's 16-year-old daughter, she has suffered through her father and uncles harassing her boyfriend in the woods and dress shopping with Willie. She made her modeling debut this month at New York Fashion Week.

John Luke: Willie and Korie's 17-year-old son, he told TC magazine he tries to be a gentleman even as girls have literally thrown themselves at him. A girl hurled herself over a fence at a concert, he told the Christian publication for teens. "Her legs were still on the fence," he said. "I didn't want her to fall, but I still had to try to gently toss her back."

Miss Kay: Mother to the four Robertson boys and wife of Phil, she is known for getting her way, often with a smile and plate of something delicious straight from the oven. She has had a series of dogs name Jessie.

Alan: He's known as the beard-less brother, although even he stops shaving for duck season. He had spent much of his life as a preacher but recently rejoined the family business and makes appearances on the show.

Mary Meehan: (859) 231-3261. Twitter: @bgmoms. Blog: Bluegrassmoms.com.

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