The Ottumwa Courier

Entertainment

December 23, 2013

In 'Duck Dynasty' hometown local loyalty prevails

(Continued)

They — the Northerners, the liberals, the non-Christians — don't get us, people here think. Ironically, those Northerners are the ones who put West Monroe on the map in the first place by producing Duck Dynasty for TV.

Marilyn Lovett of West Monroe shrugs off the criticism. The "ducks," as she calls them, reflect her and her people.

"Wholesome values," she said. "The fact that they pray after every dadgum meal. I just think it's wonderful. I wish there was more people like them."

When asked about what people elsewhere in America thought when they read Robertson's comments in GQ, she shrugged.

"I don't really care," she said. "They sure as hell don't care about what we think down here."

Duck Dynasty, which is one of the most-watched reality shows of all time, is naturally the area's biggest tourist draw. The Robertsons not only own a large gift store and warehouse where they sell everything from branded body wash to "Bearded Blend" coffee to a camouflage recliner, but they have opened Willie's Duck Diner and a women's boutique called Duck and Dressing.

There are self-guided tour maps, so fans can visit places seen on the show — the church, hardware store and doughnut shop are on the tour — and people say that West Monroe, and the Robertsons, are popular because it's all a throwback to small-town America.

"I've known Phil for 30 years," said Mike Walsworth, the owner of the Gingerbread Shop, an antique and gift shop. "He hasn't changed for 30 years."

In the store's window, there's a miniature holiday village and model train in the window.

The tiny drive-in theater's movie marquee shows "It's a Wonderful Life," and, indeed, West Monroe could perhaps be mistaken for a smaller Bedford Falls — if reality hadn't come to town.

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Follow Tamara Lush on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tamaralush

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