MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - The popular Myrtle Beach dinner show attraction Dixie Stampede will take a final bow Friday night. The Dolly Parton empire will continue, however, as a new pirate themed show takes the place of the long standing tradition for visitors and locals alike.
Larry McCoy, a spokesperson for the venue, says the new show is an effort to give loyal patrons and first time visitors something new and unique to experience. McCoy says the theme which has gained popularity in recent years, is a good fit for the beach destination.
"Pirates, I think that would be cool," middle school student and Dixie Stampede fan Jason White said. "It gets a little boring after a while watching the same [thing]. So if they change it its probably going to be a lot better, bring a lot more people."
"I was extremely excited because I think its something new and I definitely want to come as soon as they change," Jason's mom Jennifer added.
The new theme will not only take over the show but require an overhaul inside and out on the current venue.
McCoy says palm trees will replace some of the current landscaping. Inside, two pirate ships will take the floor as performers take to the water and the air in an attempt to wow visitors with this new show. Instead of horses, other animals will be taking the stage, although the details have yet to be release on what animals will be making their debut.
While many things are changing, the food, audience participation, and the competition aspects of the show will not be going anywhere. This time around McCoy says visitors will become a part of different pirate groups working to win treasure.
McCoy says Myrtle Beach is the only Dixie Stampede venue to see the theme change. He says research shows many patrons often visit more than one Dixie Stampede location so they will still likely have the chance to see the show continue at those venues.
For families and performers alike, the change is bitter-sweet.
"Stepping out into the audience of a thousand people cheering, they call your name they're there to see you," horse rider and performer Nicole Bargerstock described.
From the lights, to the horses, and the action, Dixie Stampede has made quite the name for itself in Myrtle Beach.
"As the area grew, so did our crowds as well," Emcee Lon Linke explained.
"I think it's one of the biggest tourist attractions in Myrtle Beach," one visitor said.
"My favorite part is the horses running around and getting to see them do different tricks," young patron Jason White stated matter-of-factly.
"Over a decade we've raised families right here in Myrtle Beach," Linke explained. "We've become a part of the community and that's fun."
Linke has been the face for Dixie as Emcee for nearly a decade and a half.
"Normally entertainers are flying all over the place," he said. "We get to raise a family and stay right here in town and that's been wonderful."
Linke says he is excited to see where entertainment will take him next, but saying goodbye does not come without tears.
"We've had children that have grown up and we've watched them grow up," he said. "They bring their own kids. I mean, twenty years is a generation."
"Many, many tears," Bargerstock echoed. "Tears because we're closing. Tears because we'll miss our horses and we'll miss each other."
"Anytime you have change you always have mixed emotions but we're all on a journey and it's all about memories anyhow," McCoy added.
When it comes to the Dixie Stampede show there are plenty of memories to go around and luckily some that the performers can take with them.
"The horse I've taken care of here is going to the same place I am so we'll still be together," Bargerstock said.
Bargerstock will head to Pigeon Forge with her horse as she goes on with Dolly's show there, allowing her to keep her very unique job in show biz.
"Very specific," she agreed with a smile. "Not too many places you can go and ride horses and dance and have a ball."
Bargerstock says riders were offered the chance to buy their horses and the others will be moved to other Dixie Stampede locations.
"Greener pastures," Bargerstock said brightly.
Dreams of greener pastures for all as the curtain goes down on Dixie in Myrtle Beach.
"Everyone here is an amazing performer," Bargerstock said. "They're going to move on to bigger and better things."
She also confident the show's Myrtle Beach visitors will also be in good hands.
"I think it's going to be a great thing for Myrtle Beach," Bargerstock said. "Not only a new place to go but it's going to be an amazing show."
The last Dixie Stampede show will go on Friday night at 6 p.m.