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Hazlehurst fest set for Saturday

A prophet is often scorned in his own hometown, as the oldsaying goes, but Saturday will show if it’s the same for a countrymusic singer when Hazlehurst native Pat Roper comes home to show ofhis pipes.

“I’m extremely excited about it, because it’s always fun to getto play,” he said. “But it’s also fun to get to play for people youknow, even though that makes it a little different, because theyknow you.”

Roper, a 1993 Copiah Academy graduate, moved to Nashville about12 years ago, and said he’s found his niche up there.

“I love it, Nashville’s a great place to be, and always somemusic going on, which is great if you love music like I do,” hesaid. “Plus, you somewhat get four seasons up here.”

And something about the atmosphere is not so foreign to thesmall town guy in the big city, Roper said.

“It’s a lot of fun, and you meet a lot of people. But when youlook at it, Nashville’s really a small town,” he said. “You cant goanywhere without seeing 10 people you know. It’s got a bigger cityfeel, but it’s really a small town.”

Roper said when Hazlehurst Chamber of Commerce President JoeBuck Coates contacted him to come play at Saturday’s Rockin’Railroad Festival, it was more of a brainstorming call thananything.

“I guess it was sometime back in early spring … I got a phonecall from Joe Buck, and he said, this is what we’re thinking about,and he wanted to know what my ideas were, and if I was willing todo it,” Roper said. “I told him yes, anytime you can help out yourhometown, it’s worth doing.”

And the feedback from some of his old high school friends andrivals has been fun for Roper, too. Former classmate and footballteammate Garland Brent gave him a good ribbing, Roper said.

“It’s surprised some people,” he said. “And Garland Brent toldme, ‘You’ll make a horrible famous person.’ I told him, ‘That’sokay, I’m not famous.'”

When Roper first began getting airplay for his single,”Somethin’ ‘Bout That,” he said it was funny to watch the virtualdouble-takes of acquaintances and friends from the past.

“I was at the station, doing an interview there – it was Jan.12, and I don’t know why I can remember that, but I can,” he said.”The people that were calling into the radio station, they wereasking, ‘Is this Pat Roper that went to CA?'”

The festival takes place Saturday in downtown Hazlehurst, withother local acts from The Remynders with Debbie Buie, Brookhavenband The Colonels, and the Heritage House Choir. Roper is set toplay as the closing act around 7:30 p.m.

“I’ve seen the lineup, the program list, and it’s a lot of goodentertainment,” he said. “It looks to me like there’s going to beall genres of music there. If you’re willing to stick around forthat last guy, I can promise it would be a good time.”

For more information about the Rockin Railroad Festival, callthe Hazlehurst Chamber of Commerce at (601) 894-3752.