By now, Jeff Ritchie of Mount Pleasant is accustomed to the stares of strangers and whispers of children when he enters a room.That’s because he’s often mistaken for a cast member from “Duck Dynasty,” the popular reality television show on the A&E network.In case you haven’t been swept up in the wave of popularity the show has enjoyed, you need to know that it features the Robertson family from the Louisiana bayou, their family-run duck-call business and a lot of camouflage apparel, family values and long, flowing beards.This spring, Cindy Ritchie, Jeff’s wife, heard about the “Duck Dynasty” Camo Cameo contest and immediately thought of her husband. Entrants had to submit photos, for which fans would vote online. The winner would make a cameo appearance on a commercial for the new season of “Duck Dynasty.”The Ritchies already had a photo of Jeff doing his favorite thing: duck hunting, dressed in camo and sporting a bushy beard like most of the Robertsons. Cindy submitted the photo, and the little town of Mount Pleasant swung into action to offer support.Local businesswoman Zeba Barringer became Jeff Ritchie’s biggest cheerleader, encouraging folks to keep voting for Jeff’s picture on Facebook (fans could vote once a day) and to spread the word to their friends. Cindy said the voting eventually spread nationwide, and Jeff landed in the contest’s top 10.Cindy said she is grateful to all the people who took the time to vote every day, and Barringer appreciates everyone who recognized Jeff as the “real deal.” Jeff embodies the family values celebrated on the show, Barringer said, and he’s been hunting and fishing since he was 9. “He fit what they were looking for,” she said. Jeff said he always had a really long goatee but grew his beard long about four years ago. so he fit the “Duck Dynasty” image long before the show. Now that “beards are cool,” he’ll definitely keep his long and flowing, he said.Mount Pleasant celebrated its newest celebrity at the annual Independence Day Parade. Barringer arranged for a duck-hunting-themed float to feature Jeff and Cindy Ritchie. Though Jeff is most often mistaken for “Duck Dynasty” character Uncle Si, he appeared as Phil Robertson on the float, while Cindy donned a black wig to portray Phil’s wife, Miss Kay. Both the Ritchies said the experience was “very cool” and were pleased that many in the crowd thought they were the actual characters.Jeff said that, thanks to his success in the Camo Cameo contest, three things have happened to him for the first time: He’s been interviewed for the newspaper; he’s been on television; and he’s been in a parade. As final proof of his new celebrity, Jeff Ritchie’s autographed photo now hangs in the Mount Pleasant What-a-Burger, along with those of Kellie Pickler and the Avett Brothers.
Friday, Jul. 19, 2013
Mount Pleasant man lands in top 10 of ‘Duck Dynasty Camo Cameo’ contest
Marcia Morris is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Marcia? Email her at EasternCabarrusWriter@gmail.com.
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