Jerry Nelson took one step toward making his life-long dream of producing a Wood-stock-style festival at Nutty Jerry’s a reality Tuesday, Sept. 24, by announcing the opening of an outdoor arena at his Winnie entertainment complex.
“I think eventually there will be a festival here — festivals of many different types,” said Dan Baus, marketing director for the venue and long-time business associate of Nelson. “It’s going to take time to get it established. Give it a couple of years, and I really think it’s going to be accepted as a bona fide entertainment destination.”
Nelson said the next step in holding a large-scale rock festival would be to add an RV park for event- goers who wanted to stay onsite rather than in a hotel. In the meantime, however, the new 250-foot by 500-foot, 12,000-capacity arena (which includes covered grandstand seating for 3,000 on the arena’s south side and hillside general admission on its north) will hold monster truck shows and rodeos, events that Nelson has been working for more than 15 years. The arena will open Oct. 12 and 13 with the Monster Mayhem Motor Sport show and will also be the venue for The PRCA Champions Challenge, billed as “one of the largest events in Pro Rodeo history.” The rodeo, which is scheduled for Oct. 31, Nov. 1 and 2, will be nationally televised on GAC.
“It’s one of only four that the PRCA is doing,” said Nelson, who has his eyes locked on top-tier entertainment for the future.
“We’ve got offers in for Stevie Nicks, Elton John, Bob Seger,” Nelson said. “We’re starting to throw those kind of offers on the table now.”
“Jerry was interested in bringing some of these acts in, but economically it just wasn’t feasible with the number of seats (the indoor venue offered),” Baus said. “You have to sell a lot more than 4,000 seats. It was really a number situation more than anything.”
Nelson said the indoor venue would still be used for smaller concerts and events, but with the addition of the outdoor arena, he believes he can compete with nearby markets as well as draw Houston consumers.
“We will attract larger events. We’re going to start knocking heads … with Houston,” he said. “I know me … I’d rather be outside in the middle of nowhere where I can have a good time than cramped up … trying to watch a concert.”
Nelson said that his journey to opening his outdoor arena has been filled with red tape roadblocks and snide remarks from Nashville stars — referring to an e-mail he once received from country singer Dwight Yoakum asking him, “You want us to come play where, Nutty Jerry’s? What is that?”
“Every time I turned around something couldn’t happen,” he said. “We fought the politi- cal battles, and we’ve over- come those battles.”
Baus said he believes the new arena will stimulate the economies of both Winnie and Beaumont in the future.
“It’s not going to happen overnight, but I think it’s going to be huge,” Baus said. “I think a lot of people are going to come down who don’t want to camp out or have RVs here. We’re going to fill hotel rooms.”
Despite the challenges he faced, Nelson said it wasn’t about the money for him.
“There’s not a whole lot of money to be made from a promoter’s point of entertainment,” he said. “I’m from here. I live here. I was raised here. I’m gonna die here. We just wanna create some atmosphere to give people some- thing to do. We hope we can bring events here that kids will like … that adults will like. Old people and young people can come out here to the country and have a good time.”
For more information on upcoming Nutty Jerry’s events, visit http://www.nuttyjerrys.com .
For more about Monster Mayhem, click here: http://theexaminer.com/features/entertainment/monster-mayhem-nutty-jerry’s .