Local

'Duck Dynasty' turns small town into tourist attraction

Thursday, February 06, 2014

They've gone from ordinary folk in north Louisiana, to one of the most-watched families on TV. We took a look inside the "Duck Dynasty" empire where it started -- the small town of West Monroe.

In a city that's small by Houston standards is one of the most successful businesses and most recognizable families, beards and all.

Although Alan Robertson refers to himself as the "beardless bro," he was sporting facial hair when we met him in West Monroe. That day, he had just finished his last duck hunting trip, for which he grows a beard. He got his ducks, he told us, but he fell in with his waders on and twisted his back.

A Robertson in front of the world headquarters of Duck and Buck Commander is an instant draw to customers who line up at the attached gift shop. Robertson smiles, answers questions, talks with the fans and patiently poses for pictures. The attraction, they'll tell you, is what they see as the family-friendly nature of "Duck Dynasty." Having a quirky family makes it all the more amusing.

Robertson says the core values of his parents, brothers, their wives and children come down to three things: faith, family and ducks -- in that order. He had been pastoring a church, but retired from that job to become part of the Duck Dynasty cast. He sees the show as a way to reach others.

The family is now releasing a new print project due in May called "Faith Commander," using examples from the show to make a spiritual connection.

Alan Robertson, brother Willie and their respective wives and children will be in the Houston next month. The event, called Dynasty Forever, will raise money for Northland Christian School. Robertson also spoke at a Sugar Land church last weekend.

The family was tapped for the fundraiser by Houston Attorney Mark Lanier, who interviewed the family in a similar event in west Texas. "They're the real deal," he says." What you see is what you get."

Robertson will tell you that his family has had its shares of ups and downs; that their feet are not webbed, but made of clay. What made headlines last year was Phil Robertson's remarks on homosexuality in a GQ Magazine interview. A&E television distanced itself from the comments and suggested that Robertson might have to leave the cast.

Instead, his family rallied around him, saying they couldn't go on without their "patriarch."

The show debuted its new season, with all Robertsons accounted for.

"Duck Dynasty" is jumping the pond, about to be shown in Russia and Kazakhstan. Robertson says he enjoys watching episodes with foreign language dubbed in. Russian, he says, should be especially entertaining.

"Our beards will go over well, but how do you translate Uncle Si? He doesn't even know English," he said.

Find Deborah on Facebook at ABC13DeborahWrigley or on Twitter at @wrigleyabc13

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