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Posted August 27, 2009 | comments Leave a comment

Country legend to be honored at fundraiser

By Jessica Wiant -- jwiant@nvdaily.com

Natalie Wills, executive director of the Winchester-Frederick County Convention and Visitors Bureau, and Sally Coates, the visitor and community relations manager, dress up with boots and hats. Dennis Grundman/Daily

Thumb-sized boots that have flashing lights will be for sale as part of the Boots-n-Hats for Patsy Cline event on Sept. 4. Dennis Grundman/Daily

WINCHESTER -- Donning your best boots and hat on Sept. 4 at the George Washington Hotel could win you a prize, but should at least result in a good time for you and more money for the renovation of a local legend's former home.

Only the tip of the boot is filled so far in the effort to raise the $198,500 needed to completely restore country and pop star Patsy Cline's former home at 608 S. Kent St. to its condition during her years there, 1948 to 1957, says Judy Sue Huyett-Kempf, president of Celebrating Patsy Cline Inc.

The group, dedicated to preserving the singer's legacy, bought the building six years ago and wants to eventually open it to the public, not as a museum, but as a historic site -- accurate in details from furniture, curtains, appliances and more based on the memories of Cline's still-living husband, Charlie Dick, according to Huyett-Kempf.

They kicked off their fundraising efforts earlier this year, and on Sept. 4, they're hoping to fill the boot a little more with the first-ever Boots-n-Hats for Patsy Cline event with the Winchester-Frederick County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

"It's really going to be a fun, fun evening," says the bureau's executive director, Natalie Wills.

Live music for the evening will be provided by country music veteran Brent Woodall and the Natchez Trace Band and local country recording artist Thom Shepherd, whose song "Riding with Private Malone" was a No. 1 hit for country singer David Ball, according to a news release from the visitor's bureau.

"The music's going to be great," Wills says.

Food, including pulled pork and ham, also will be available, as will a cash bar featuring a special "Midnight Margarita," in honor of one of Cline's hits.

The event also will include a silent auction of Cline-themed items including a coffee table decorated with a collage of Cline memorabilia, a Cline wall clock, framed poem and Cline record collection that has been donated by a fan.

In addition to auction items, glowing boot and hat pins will be for sale for $3 during the evening to be used during a tribute to Cline. According to the news release, a Cline tribute artist will perform "Sweet Dreams," with the lights of the George Washington Hotel ballroom dimmed at one point during the evening.

And, of course, prizes will be awarded for the best boots and hats, although attendees aren't required to wear them, Wills says.

The date for the event was chosen because it falls near Cline's birthday, on Sept. 8, a date that has made Winchester a frequent stop for Cline fans on Labor Day weekends, according to Wills.

She says she'd like to see it grow into a full weekend of activities centered around the star, who died in a plane crash in 1963.

Cline, who spent much of her life in Winchester, is a music icon, Huyett-Kempf says, and a pioneer woman who "dared to journey into a man's world of music."

Even today many people identify with her songs, she says.

Just opening Cline's former house to the public will fulfill a need in the Winchester community, according to Wills: Hardly a day goes by that someone doesn't stop in the visitor center looking for Patsy Cline sites, she says.

"To have her house open would really give the fans the experience they're seeking," she says.

Boots-n-Hats for Patsy Cline will be held from 7 to 11 p.m. on Sept. 4 at the George Washington Hotel at 103 E. Piccadilly St. in Winchester. Tickets, which are $50 each, are available by mail or at the visitor center at 1400 S. Pleasant Valley Road. All proceeds from the event will go toward establishing the Patsy Cline Historic House. Call 542-1326 or 877-871-1326 for more information.

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