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Willie Bust Bursts Event Center's Bubble

By Catherine M. Welch

Wilmington, NC – The Duplin County Events Center may shut down in the wake of the bust last January of country singer Willie Nelson's band.

Duplin County Manager Mike Aldridge says the county will run the Duplin Events Center until June, then go from there.

The center drew national attention when Alcohol Law Enforcement agents busted five of Willie Nelson's band members for possession of pot and moonshine. Former director John Vogt says news of the bust killed the summer line up of popular country acts.

"Immediately our other concert business dried up. I mean, within 24 hours I had shows cancelling because the promoters just didn't want to subject themselves to that kind of risk."

Vogt and 25 part-time employees have lost their jobs. The county manager says Vogt did a good job running the Duplin Events Center, and hopes it doesn't go under.

Vogt has been found not guilty on obstruction charges for refusing to allow ALE agents back stage before the Willie Nelson concert.

Willie Nelson's hand pain, and not the bust, forced Nelson to cancel the concert.

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