When a losing game leads to the Grand Ole Opry

Book the trip. Buy the tickets. Take it all in with your loved ones. Here’s to sharing more life, love and laughter.

Trisha Yearwood and Garth Brooks performed at the 5,000th consecutive Saturday night show of the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee, on Oct. 30, 2021. Katie Pinke / Agweek

One of the best — yet spontaneous — experiences of our life happened this past week.

Our visit to Nashville, Tennessee, reminded me of the importance of booking the trip. The place you longed to visit in the depths of the pandemic, on grueling workdays and during life’s struggles, go there. Bring your best friend, your spouse, your kids or other loved ones.

Vince Gill sang and paid tribute to the bluegrass duo The Osborne Brothers at the Grand Ole Opry on Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021. Sonny Osborne died on Oct. 24, 2021. Gill is a 21-time Grammy Award winner and has received more Country Music Association trophies than any other artist. Katie Pinke / Agweek

Last fall, at the suggestion of friends, our son arranged for six tickets to the University of North Dakota versus Penn State hockey game in Nashville on Oct. 30, 2021. The game, which was rescheduled from 2020, is a U.S Hockey Hall of Fame game as well as a fundraiser for a good cause and a destination game, so it’s a fun trip for thousands of fans. I’ve been a UND hockey fan since my birth in Grand Forks, North Dakota.

We weren’t able to attend the recent destination games in 2016 in New York City or 2018 in Las Vegas because our son played UND football. Hunter no longer plays football and lives 1,800 miles from home in Tucson, Arizona, so we planned the trip to Nashville as a much-needed family weekend, our first with Hunter that didn’t involve football or his spinal cord injury and accident in many years.


Trisha Yearwood sang numerous award-winning hit country songs at the Grand Ole Opry on Oct. 30, 2021. Yearwood's 1991 hit, "She's in Love with the Boy," became country music's most listened to song by a female artist in 2021, according to MRC Data. Katie Pinke / Agweek

In late spring, when I booked hotel rooms in Nashville, I looked at Grand Ole Opry tickets. I decided we couldn’t swing a show. The week before leaving for Nashville, I booked backstage Opry tour tickets for our daughters, Nathan and me, after Hunter would be returning to Tucson.

In the third period of Saturday night’s hockey game, we were losing to Penn State. Hearing that a few friends were leaving to attend a 9:30 p.m. Grand Ole Opry show with Garth Brooks performing, I quickly searched for tickets on my phone. I thought to myself, if I can get four tickets for under $500, we’ll go to the Opry right now. At “flash pricing” 20 minutes before showtime, I scored four tickets for $69 each, from the bathroom at the hockey arena.

I last saw Garth Brooks, the top solo-selling artist in music history, perform live in 1998 in Fargo, North Dakota. Garth’s now wife, Trisha Yearwood, was the opening act at that concert. I also saw Trisha perform in 1991, when my dad took me to see her at the Chester Fritz in Grand Forks, North Dakota. I’ve always been a loyal fan since that 1991 concert when I was 12 years old and heard her perform her hit, "She's in Love with the Boy," now the most listened to country song by a female artist in the history of MRC Data.

Garth Brooks, the top solo-selling artist in music history, performed at the 5,000th Grand Ole Opry show on Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021. Twenty minutes before the last show, Katie Pinke bought four tickets to the sold-out show to attend with her family and writes in her column the importance of shared, spontaneous experiences. Katie Pinke / Agweek

My now 12-year-old loyal UND fan daughter shed a few tears of frustration that I was asking her to leave a hockey game we traveled to see. I promised her she’d understand later. We grabbed a Lyft to the Grand Ole Opry, arriving for the 5,000th consecutive Saturday night show. It was sold out, but we had fantastic seats in the lower-level middle, row G. Classic performers included John Conlee, Jeannie Seely, Vince Gill, Darius Rucker, Chris Young, Connie Smith, Chris Janson and The Isaacs. Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood sang solos and then performed together, including a Tammy Wynette and George Jones duet.

We all soaked in and loved the fun family experience — and our daughters say they’ll be listening or watching more Opry shows from home.


Three-time Grammy Award winner Darius Rucker sang and paid tribute to Patsy Cline on Oct. 30, 2021, at the Grand Ole Opry. Rucker, formerly the lead singer in the band Hootie and the Blowfish, has released five country music albums which include eight No. 1 country music singles. Katie Pinke / Agweek

Life is too fragile to miss an opportunity as we experienced in Nashville. Go do the thing you’ve been considering, even if it’s last minute. Don’t make excuses.

Book the trip. Buy the tickets. Take it all in with your loved ones. Here’s to sharing more life, love and laughter.

To read more of Katie Pinke's The Pinke Post columns, click here.

Pinke is the publisher and general manager of Agweek. She can be reached at, or connect with her on Twitter @katpinke.

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