A celebration that has allowed Williams Lake regulars to reminisce each year, while raising money for local civic and outreach organizations, is being held again this August with tickets already on sale for what is assured to be another sell-out.
The 7th annual Williams Lake Dance Club Reunion is set for Saturday, Aug. 16, at the Sampson County Agri-Exposition Center. Archie Bell, “Mr. Tighten Up” himself, will be the headliner. Along with “Tighten Up,” the former lead singer of Archie Bell & The Drells is known for hits such as “I Can’t Stop Dancing,” “There’s Gonna Be a Showdown,” “Girl You’re Too Young” and “Old People.”
After a week of priority sales, $40 tickets for the general public are now available and will continue to be until they run out.
Event organizer Robert Honeycutt thanked all those who have helped make the past six Williams Lake Dance Club reunions a success, and said it was that “overwhelming” dedication and support — be it time, expertise or resources — that have made the event what it is.
Along with the response he gets from the old Williams Lake crowd, and the nostalgia, fellowship and good music the bash brings each year, Honeycutt said a large part of what fuels the reunion is the positive impact it is able to have in Sampson and beyond. All net proceeds are donated to charities.
“The Williams Lake Reunion has raised more than $40,000,” Honeycutt attested.
Among those who have benefited are Relay for Life, the Sampson County Department of Aging, the Lions Club, the Shriner’s Childrens’ Hospital Fund, the Wounded Warriors Project, the Sampson County Meth Task Force, the Dunn Alumni Association and others. Most receive between $500 to $1,000 in donations annually because of the reunion.
This year’s reunion is on tap for Saturday, Aug. 16, with a social and free pig picking to kick it off from 3-6:30 p.m. The Ginger Thompson Band will play from 4-6:30 p.m. leading up to the main attraction from 7-11:30 p.m.
As part of the main attraction, from 7-9:30 p.m., Archie Bell will be playing his hits, followed by Danny Woods (formerly with Chairmen of the Board) and The Party Prophets with Cindy Floyd, New York Blues Hall of Famer Angel Rissoff and Clifford Curry. Playing from 9:30-11:30 p.m., North Tower, Tony Davis, Carlie Barbour and the Williams Lake Allstar Band will perform.
John Moore, of WNCT 107.9 FM, will serve as the master of ceremonies and Robert Stroud of “Boogie Shoes” Network, 1170 WCLN and 1440 WBLA, will serve as the DJ. The event is sponsored by Ford of Clinton and many others.
Honeycutt, who managed Williams Lake from 1965-69, spearheaded the reunion in 2008 and the event has sold out every year, as big names — the majority of which played Williams Lake during its heyday — have entertained a capacity crowd.
Williams Lake was open from 1932 to 1970 off U.S. 13 in the Mingo Township and owned by the late Clayton and Lillian Williams. That property now sits vacant , prompting the event to be held at the Expo Center since its inception.
However, in the time it stood, Williams Lake was the place to be, boasting an incredible list of entertainers who played the venue, including Pieces of Eight, Buddy Skipper and The Jetty Jumpers, The O’Kaysions, The Majestics, The Tams, Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs, Jackie Wilson and many others.
“Some of these people are coming back after 45 years,” Honeycutt has said. “That’s the impact the place had on people, and we didn’t even know what we had.”
Many of those who have been with the event since it began in 2008 continue to scoop up tables each year, a reason Honeycutt wanted to extend priority every year to loyal Williams Lake reunion attendees so they might have the chance to buy tickets before they were offered to the general public.
The lake left fond memories, which are able to be revisited through the reunion each year.
“Most people didn’t realize at the time that it was one of the most unique places around,” Honeycutt stated. “It’s basically a Williams Lake crowd that shows up each year. It brings back a lot of memories. It’s like a big family reunion, for the musicians too.”
For more information about the show or to inquire about tickets, call Robert Honeycutt at 910-214-2858. You can also visit www.williamslakedanceclub.com or “Remember Williams Lake” on Facebook.
Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 121. Follow us on twitter @SampsonInd.