The Honey Boo Boo effect - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

The Honey Boo Boo effect

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MCINTYRE, GA (WALB) -

Love her or not, Georgia's Honey Boo Boo child is a pop culture sensation, complete with her own phone ringtones and even Halloween costumes. Her reality TV show is shot in a small town near Macon.

And the few hundred folks who live there will tell you that life's now different because of the Honey Boo Boo effect.

Nestled beneath the highway 441 overpass between Dublin and Milledgeville, is tiny McIntyre, Georgia. Smoke from Kaolin mines paints the backdrop for this little town of 643.

The Savannah to Macon rail line, on which trains pass a half dozen times a day, provides the soundtrack for this little town-- until now.

"You betta redneckogniiiiize," says Alana Thompson.

McIntyre is the home of pop culture phenomenon Alana Thompson, better known as Honey Boo Boo.

And her family's hit reality show on TLC has turned up the volume on this little town.

With an average of nearly three million viewers per episode, Here Comes Honey Boo Boo put McIntyre on the map.

Cameron Williams says, "It changed the town a lot. A lot of people coming down here want to see Honey Boo Boo."

But Zach Phillips says, "I don't really watch it or anything, cause it's just that crude humor."

On the one hand, folks in McIntyre are tickled to see their little town on national TV.

"I'm just thankful to them for putting the show on and letting everybody know where McIntyre is," says Williams.

But that fame comes at a price. "They're talking about Southern people don't have good dialect and stuff, like, with the whole dialogue at the bottom of the pages, like it's saying we can't talk. I can talk just fine," says Kayla Bentley.

Fans drive hours to McIntyre to catch a glimpse of the sassy little reality star.

Orange cones and barrels, typically used to mark road construction around these parts, are now placed along the driveway of her family's modest home.

"There's been a lot of people coming around wanting to just take pictures and see Honey Boo Boo," says Zach Phillips.

As fans arrive with their cameras, Alana plays chase with some of them in the front yard. A muscular bodyguard stands watch.

Her Mom, June, says her family enjoys the attention.

"Papazzari follows us now and we've got tons of fans who come to the house which we love," says June Shannon.

There are three Kaolin mines here in McIntyre, and when the lunch whistle blows, many of the works heads across the street to the Chalkminer Diner.

But these days, chalkminers aren't the only one stopping in.

"Everybody seems to know where McIntyre's at. And they come in and ask if we know Honey Boo Boo," says Ashley Scholz.

While the locals know the reality star and her family, not all of them approve of the show.

"I do not watch it. It's stupid. She just has an ugly mouth," says Vangela Shiver.

But June Shannon says the show and their antics are all in good fun.

"I'm sure people laugh at us but, hey, I'm laughing at myself, too. Honestly, I'll sit there every Wednesday and laugh like crazy," says Shannon.

"I watch it and I know the people on there, and I think it's funny, but sometimes I'm like, sometimes it's kinda stupid. I really do think it's kinda dumb that they're getting paid to act silly on TV," says Bentley.

But they are getting paid a lot. While the family won't discuss the amount, it's believed to be in the tens of thousands of dollars per episode.

Some of which will be spent right here in little McIntyre, Georgia. At least until the show ends and TLC cameras move on down the tracks.  

Honey Boo Boo's first season is over, but TLC signed the family on for three holiday specials. And like it or not, the little town of McIntyre will stay in the national spotlight for now.

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