CRESTVIEW —There are a lot of places around Crestview many people may not know about, but could be considered tourist attractions — such as the Panhandle Opry. Located at 657 DeShazo Road, it offers people a place to go for good, clean family fun.

“We have a great show,” said owner Gordon Porter. “If it’s sexually oriented songs, we either change the words or we don’t sing them.”

“People that don’t like to go to bars, this is the place for them,” added his wife, Corinne.

The Panhandle Opry started in 1979 at the Roadrunner Restaurant. The Opry moved to Niceville and several other places before Porter decided to build his own and bought a saw mill to start the construction.

Show attendees as well as the band built the Opry, according to Porter. 

“On Saturdays, we would all get together and come out and work. We had a couple people working throughout the week," he said.

The seats in the building are theater seats from the Eglin Theater.

“I was doing a job down there and I bought them from the contractor that was taking them out when they were converting the theater to a class-type thing,” said Porter.

Porter and his wife said the Opry is a hobby for them.

“This is my fishing boat,” joked Porter.

The Opry stages events on the first and third Saturday of the month when the Panhandle Band plays live music. The band, which originally started years ago in Defuniak Springs, consists of family members and a few family friends.

“A bunch of people got together and played at that time,” said Porter. “We just did it because we liked it.”

“We didn’t charge anything,” said Corinne.

Last month, country music singer John Conlee performed at the Opry. Conlee drew a crowd of around 420 people. Porter said his son, Michael, has a band called Pickle Jar, which also occasionally plays at the shows.

“They’re a really professional group,” said Porter. “He (Michael) plays with us (Panhandle Band) as well.”

The Opry will celebrate its 40th anniversary in June. The anniversary show will be held on June 15.

“We invite all the people that’s been on here before, that’s retired and everything, to come back if they want to,” said Porter.

Many people have performed at the Opry over the years including: Marty Haggard, Ernie Ashworth and an Elvis impersonator from Dothan, Alabama, named Jerome Jackson.

Admission for the Opry ranges from $7 to $10 depending on age. Children under 6 get in free.

“We keep it low so everyone can come," said Porter. “We don’t take any money out of it; we just put it back in the show,” he added.

For more information, visit www.panhandleopry.net.