Paul Eckhart moved from northeastern Pennsylvania to Nashville in June of 1972. That night he decided to go to see the Grand Ole Opry, even before he was unpacked and settled in his new home. Eckhart saw something on the stage he liked, and he has chosen to continue the tradition for the last 40 years. Eckhart hadn’t missed a weekend at the Opry since he attended that performance in 1972.
Last Saturday, June 16, the Opry honored Eckhart for his long-time loyal with the first-ever Fan Award. He and his family also got to enjoy the show from the front row. The Opry hasn’t been a Eckhart family tradition for the last four decades, though. His wife has had a tradition of her own – going to play Bingo nearly as long as he has been attending the Opry.
Opry Vice President and General Manager Pete Fisher said that Eckhart is family. “None of us can imagine looking out on a weekend Opry performance and not seeing Paul in the crowd,” Fisher said.
Why has Eckhart kept going back to the Opry every weekend for four decades. “Of course there have been some true standout moments over the past 40 years,” Eckhart says, “but every Opry show has been special, each one has been different, and every single one of them has been entertaining. I can’t imagine having spent my weekends anywhere other than the Grand Ole Opry.”