Country music opry performance spaces continue to see a massive decline in the area. One opry that has continued to press on despite the drop off of many in the area is the Patterson Country Opry located just a few miles west of White Hall in Greene County. During the first Friday of every month, the opry continues to display local musicians and 1 featured performer as well as a meal for between 40-50 faithful people.
Jennifer Gillis’s father, the late Dale Sorrells, a well-known pedal steel in the popular regional band Flatland Band, was one of the original founders of the opry back in 1989. Despite the rich history of country music in the area, the opry is in dire straits of continuing due to dwindling crowds and a leaky roof at the old Patterson School Building.
Gillis says the Patterson Community Club runs both the school and the opry: “It has dwindled quite a bit. A lot of the people that are coming are older. We’re having trouble getting a younger crowd. We get about maybe 40 people a month. It depends on the month. The winter months are really hard on us. The opry is part of the Patterson Community Club. We are in charge of renting the gym.”
The 1947 portion of the building, which is only the gymnasium, is the only portion that is still used, and has a hard time getting through the winter and the current roof is in need of complete repair. “Depending upon what we want to do with it, but some of the estimates we had would have it cost between $5000 and $10,000. Right now, the winter months are really hard on heating the building so we are trying to raise funds for that, as well.”
Currently, the Patterson Community Club is holding a raffle on December 6th to raise money for the roof’s repair. The winner will receive an Amazon Fire tablet. Gillis said that donations for the Community Club are always open via postal mail if someone can’t make the opry each month. Gills says donations can be made out to the Patterson Community Club and mailed in to PO Box 62, Patterson, Illinois 62078.
The next opry performance will be Friday with food starting at 6PM and music starting at 7:30PM. Admission is $8. This month’s special guest is Rick Dennis. All proceeds from the opry will go to the continued maintenance of the property with an official address of 123 Hall Street in Patterson on the White Hall road. For more information about the opry, contact Gillis at 217-473-8637 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.