A Homecoming for the Duke in Winterset, Iowa

john-wayne-birthplace-museum-ribbon-cutting-copyright-stuart-rosebrook-blogOn May 23, 2015, over 1,000 fans, friends, family, honorary guests and dignitaries, from as far away as Australia, Ireland and France, gathered in Winterset, Iowa, for a four-day celebration in honor of John Wayne and the grand opening of the long-awaited John Wayne Birthplace Museum.  Since mid-2007, Executive Director Brian Downes and the museum’s board of directors, working closely with the Wayne family, including special guest Aissa Wayne, have worked tirelessly to bring the dream of the museum to reality. Board President Joe Zuckschwerdt, who presided at the dedication, has loaned numerous items from his personal collection of 30,000 Wayne collectibles to the museum’s exhibits. The exhibition hall, gift shop and theater provide the visitor with an excellent introduction to the life and career of the Duke, while the original John Wayne Birthplace Museum, Wayne’s family home, just around the corner, displays the Iowa film star’s home as it may have been when he was born in 1907. The dedication’s keynote speaker Scott Eyman, author of John Wayne: The Life and Legend, spoke passionately about the purposefulness of Wayne’s life—and the importance of family to the Western star. Duke’s daughter, Aissa Wayne, echoed Eyman’s sentiments in her own remarks at the ceremony. The weekend festivities, always held in honor of the Duke’s birthday, also included numerous screenings of Wayne’s films at downtown Winterset’s historic Iowa Theater, a landmark in the town since 1900. Following the ceremony, over 700 fans gathered for an outdoor bbq buffet fundraiser with Country star Marty Stuart, a close friend of Brian Downes, his band the Fabulous Superlatives and his wife, Opry legend, Connie Smith.

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