Heart of Louisiana: The Franklin Opry

Winnsboro -- If you drive through the north Louisiana town of Winnsboro, you can tell right away if you're close to a patriotic holiday. The Franklin Parish town has been officially designated as the Stars and Stripes capital of Louisiana. And you can find something else here that's very special -- the town is lucky to have preserved its old 1920's Princess Theatre.

"Developed originally as a Vaudeville house, then it went to silent movies, then of course the talk moves, then about 1985 it showed its last movie here," says theater manager Gene Thompson.

The town raised money to restore the old theater to its original condition. "You got the original tin roof, the ornate tin tiles that are in there, a lot of the sconces that are on the wall are the original," says Thompson.

On the third Saturday night of each month, the Princess Theatre is the home of the Franklin Opry.

Gene King provides the house band for the Opry. "It's a very, very clean family show," King says. "There's not a lot for our age people to do, you know, good clean country music, traditional country. There's very few places left where you can find it."

And that's probably what has made this musical showcase a success. After doing these shows every month for almost seven years, they say that this small town theater has never had a problem finding enough singers and musicians to fill the stage.

"There's plenty people that are great talents, but you just have to get them to come out and perform," King says. "Once they do it, they love it, they're hooked."

The music flows from country to gospel to occasional bluegrass. But no matter the style, all of it is fun to listen to.

The Jones Boys from Denham Spring make the trip to the stage of the Franklin Opry once a year. "We enjoy it because it lets us know that there is an audience still out there for what we like to do," says Mickey Jones. "You know, real country music, shuffles and stuff that really other than places like this you have to go to Texas to find that kind of music."

Even on a cold winter night, most of the seats are filled in the Princess Theatre. It's become a tradition in this small town, and people gather with friends and listen to their music in a place that has been a part of their families for generations.

You can catch the Franklin Opry the third Saturday of every month at the historic Princess Theatre in Winnsboro. For more information, go online to http://www.princesstheatreinc.com.