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Dayton Memories > Midwestern Hayride
Midwestern Hayride
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15 posts
Aug 29, 2011
12:26 PM
Who remembers the cast of the program? There was a dude, first name was Willie, last name skips my mind. Who else was on the program?
296 posts
Aug 29, 2011
2:09 PM
So long ago! There was a troupe of square dancers from our neighbor to the south; name of "The Kentucky Briar-Hoppers".

The theme was a stylized square dance tune played on a solo fiddle and absolutely nothing else - just like in the old barn dance tradition where there might be one, maybe two competent fiddlers in a county full of cornfields.

As a further aside, remember that back then (Gawd, back then I never thought the day would come when I called back then "back then"; TV seemed so moderne) the TV shows all had announcers who would announce the title of the show and the cast (LEAVE IT TO BEAVER! STARRING BARBARA BILLINGSLEY AS JUNE CLEAVER... etc.) Then the whole famiy would come running into the living room. I believe this was done because lots of us kept the TV on to keep the tubes (TUBES!!) warmed up and were otherwise occupied with hobbies, homework, and chores and not really minding the time.
15 posts
Aug 29, 2011
4:32 PM
I remember Willie Shaw, Sally Flowers, Bonnie Lou and Estel McDew and the Blue Grass Boys.
65 posts
Aug 29, 2011
5:24 PM
Willie Thall was the early announcer, Dean Richards was the later. The theme song was "Down at the Huskin' Bee".
181 posts
Aug 29, 2011
7:54 PM
I found a good article on the Midwestern Hayride on the web site Cincinnati.com
My favorite was Kenny Roberts "The Jumping Cowboy". I also remember Ernie Lee and of course Kenny Price. You can hear some songs on You Tube too.

Last Edited by on Aug 29, 2011 7:55 PM
28 posts
Aug 31, 2011
7:38 PM
I believe the Willie was Willie Thal, right?
maxed out
303 posts
Sep 01, 2011
2:01 PM
Midwestern Hayride was on one of the few channels that was available back in the 50's and 60;s. Actually I remember the show with fond memories.. During the Christmas season I remember Willie would show all of the new toys that SANTA could bring us on Christmas eve. I loved Christmas so much when I was young. My family was not rich by any means but I loved what I did receive. It was a wonderful time for me.

Last Edited by on Sep 01, 2011 2:01 PM
1 post
May 05, 2012
9:42 PM
The Midwestern Hayride began on radio in the 1940's and was simulcast on radio and television from about 1948. Willie Thall was the host for many years, and then later Dean Richards. My mother's youngest sister, Helene, married Estil McNew in 1943, and they had already been working together with a group called the Kentucky Briarhoppers. Estil was from Rockcastle County, Kentucky and the group appeared on the Renfro Valley Barn Dance occasionally, the first time in 1939 I believe. The Kentucky Briarhoppers were the first group to take the traditional clog step a little faster than usual, and to have taps with cletes (loose plates) on their shoes, which made the taps ring more. They were not traditional "Western Style" square dancers and were unique with their own style and did not dance the flat-footed clog style. Estil called the squares and my aunt was the lead female dancer. My aunt made the costumes for the women and sometimes the shirts for the men if she couldn't find the right shirts in a western wear store. She also did much of the booking, as Estil had a full time job during the week. Sometime in the mid-fifties, Estil decided to form a group called the Tiny Eight, which soon became The Junior Kentucky Briarhoppers. My aunt made all the costumes for them too, usually smaller versions of the costumes of the older dancers. Both groups were very popular in the tri-state area of Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana. In the late '50's a labor dispute at WLW caused several acts to leave the Hayride, and the Briarhoppers was one of them. They went to Indianapolis and became stars on the Indiana Hoedown on Channel 6, WFBM with Charlie Gore and the Rangers, and other acts both local and from the Hayride cast as well. The Briarhoppers went back to WLW and performed under the name the Midwesterners at times on WKRC television as well. Estil and Helene divorced about 1966 and went their separate ways. I don't remember if he stayed with the Hayride and the dancers but I know she didn't. I believe the Hayride left the air in 1972. As a child we lived in central Indiana and were able to attend many of the shows in the area where the dancers were dancing. The Jr. group spent the night as my house guests in 1955. I practiced with the Jr. group but never danced with them. My step-cousin did dance with them however. The Cincinnati Museum has copies of several old Hayride shows with the various stars of the '50's. You can view them there,and buy them on CD if you wish.
3 posts
May 06, 2012
1:14 PM
My grandfather loved the Midwestern Hayride and named my mother Bonnie Lou after the Famous Bonnie Lou! I believe some of his musical brothers played a few times on the show.
124 posts
Sep 18, 2012
9:19 AM
Wasn't Kenny Price known as 'The Round Mound of Sound'? Seem to remember him being introduced that way....
163 posts
Sep 19, 2012
9:44 AM
Kenny Price also did a stint on Hee-Haw in its declining years.
Willie(y?) Thal(l?) also worked as Ruth Lyons sidekick on the 50 CLub when Peter Grant (WLW news director)was unavailable.
In the early years of TV, all of the WLW stations were tightly coupled and most of the live programming aired on all four TV stations WLW-C, D, I and T simultaneously. Sometimes, when when the technical wind was blowing in the right direction, also on WLW-A in Atlanta.
Mikey, Gatlinburg, TN
luv my dayton
147 posts
Sep 29, 2012
8:43 AM
Willie Thal is correct. This was yet another show that when it came on the family gathered around. Really miss those days.
luv my dayton
148 posts
Sep 29, 2012
8:58 AM
Have bought myself a number of old tv show dvd sets. Andy Griffith, I love Lucy, Leave it to Beaver, Ozzie and Harriet and others. Shows that never offended. Even have the Ozzie and Harriet Christmas shows. Although June Cleaver was a bit fixed up back in those days before slacks and jeans, that is pretty much how moms dressed even to do their daily chores. TVland runs some of these daily and then there is a channel called JLTV, with old Dinah Shore shows, Jack Benny, The Goldbergs etc. My escape from the usual fair that is called tv now adays.
19 posts
May 20, 2013
7:36 PM
There was a female singer named Bonnie Lou on the Midwestern Hayride.
66 posts
May 21, 2013
2:41 PM
Bonnie Lou was a yoddeler. She was on Midwestern Hayride, and the Ruth Lyons show. Bonnie lives/lived in Brookville and did commercials for Boose Chevrolet. My favorites on the Mid Western Hayride was Zeek and Bill.
1 post
May 27, 2013
10:05 PM
Wow this brought back memories! I used to watch this when I lived with my Gma & Gpa we were fr KY & were living in Miami County at this time, back in the late 60's. I remember Bonnie Lou, she was really pretty, and I had forgotten Kenny Price, "Round Mound of Sound", remember him from Hee Haw. The head musician guy, I remember I always thought his wavy greased parted hair sqicked me out as a kid...still does!!! Didn't he have a short little wife who played the base fiddle? I think I remember my Gma saying "that woman always looks so sour, she NEVER smiles"...haha
21 posts
May 30, 2013
5:30 PM
Bonnie Lou also had two Top 10 country hits in 1953-
Tenneessee Wig-Walk and Seven Lonely Days

In 1954 she began to record some Rock & Roll songs-
Two-Step-Side-Step - Daddy "O" (top 15 in 1955)
Lah De Dah in 1958 with Rusty York

She definitely was not only a Yodeler.
maxed out
402 posts
May 31, 2013
1:29 AM
Loved Bonnie Lou... Tomco, Bonnie Lou was a great yodeler. None of her hits had yodeling in them, but I can still remember her yodeling on Ruth Lyons Show.... My dad was always in love with Mirian Spelman
71 posts
Jun 11, 2013
8:55 PM
I was at this age where I didn't know who was who and didn't care.I didn't want anyone to talk to much,the excitement I had was just getting to the music and the dancing had me rockin,I knew when Hayride was on and was waiting,and sometimes that just didn't come fast enough,I guess kind of a early MTV for my age.
109 posts
Jun 12, 2013
4:31 PM
I vagly remember going to a old barn in Mason and there was a radio show being broadcast out of that location.There was a big tower outside with call letters WLW lit up.I do believe it was Hayride.Perhaps late fortys.
33 posts
Jun 12, 2013
7:00 PM
Thank you Chrissy, I sure do remember the Kentucky Briarhoppers and the square dancing on the Midwestern Hayride. In the 5th grade we even did some square dancing at Assumption School which was on Kings Highway. In the 5th grade I was none to excited about getting up and dancing but since it was the square dancing I saw on saturday night it wasn't TOO bad. Your aunt must have spent hours on the costumes with all of the petticoats the women wore.
3 posts
Jun 12, 2013
10:10 PM
Hey Olds88, I was just on a tour of that WLW antenna in Mason and the buildings where they actually used to broadcast from. The antenna is still in use, someone mentioned something about the old barn nearby where they had music---don't know if it is still there or no...
2 posts
Oct 26, 2013
8:04 PM
My Great Grandfather was on the show in the early 50's. His band was called "The Trailhands" He was the accordion and piano player of the band. The band also played with Herb & Kay Adams, The Geer Sisters, and when Ernie Lee hosted the show for a short time, they went on a USO Tour in '56. Anyone have any old pictures or information they don't mind sharing?
luv my dayton
429 posts
Oct 28, 2013
10:27 AM
Some of the people who were on Midwestern hayride starred first on the Ruth Lyons show. Last year for Christmas my sister sent me a Dvd set of her show which had many of them on there. Willi Thall for sure and Bonny Lou. Also received a Cd of ruths Christmas songs she wrote and sang. Would imagine that many family's spent family time watching Midwestern and Ruth Lyons.More great memories.
96 posts
Oct 28, 2013
2:39 PM
Remember "Let's Light The Christmas Tree"?

Last Edited by Nile on Oct 28, 2013 2:40 PM
12 posts
Apr 06, 2014
11:32 AM
Thanks to Chrissy for her input! I remember Willie and the cloggers!
1 post
Nov 12, 2014
7:40 AM
I have a few pics of the Trailhands as my grandfather was in that band. Russ Helton, Herb Adams, Bob Shank and Randy Dirks.

Last Edited by trailhand on Nov 12, 2014 7:43 AM
6 posts
Nov 30, 2014
3:38 PM
I remember seeing Midwestern Hayride live at the Island Park band shell. This would have been in the early 1960s.
2 posts
Nov 30, 2014
8:18 PM
Trailhand56, Russ Helton was my Grandfather, although he died before I was born. I can send you some pics Trailhand56 if you have an email address you can leave.
1 post
Dec 26, 2014
7:29 PM
To trailhand, My dad was one of the Trailhands his name was Bob Bell he played lead guitar. I haven't seen any of the old pictures in the past 50 years. Dad went on tour with Ernie Lee and the Trailhands, If you are willing to share the pictures it would be appreciated my email address is pshworles@gmail.com
64 posts
Jan 02, 2015
6:31 PM
I also remember watching Ruth Lyons 50 50 club. I believe it was out of Cincinnati.
luv my dayton
787 posts
Jan 03, 2015
8:11 AM
65 posts
Jan 03, 2015
9:39 PM
Does anyone remember Bob Braun? I recall the name but can't think of who he was.
241 posts
Jan 03, 2015
10:14 PM
clamper - Wikipedia has a good article on Bob Braun.
David C
9 posts
Feb 16, 2015
9:03 AM
Kenny Price was also one of the Hee Haw Gospel Quartet before he passed away. I met Kenny's son when serving as a youth leader at an Aquire the Fire event at a church in Middletown. He was the sound engineer for the church.
4 posts
Mar 12, 2015
11:37 AM
This wonderful program also featured the Boyer sisters from Miamisburg.
25 posts
Mar 15, 2015
8:05 AM
If I recall, Bob Braun took over from Ruth Lyons when Ruth retired.
1 post
Apr 16, 2015
6:36 PM
Does anybody remember a guy named earl Clark I was told he might have played on the show
luv my dayton
953 posts
Apr 17, 2015
3:56 PM
Roy Clark only one I remember.Earl Clark I think is a sports figure.
Jan Ramsey
1 post
May 08, 2015
9:46 AM
I am conducting research on the music history of Lynchburg, VA where Zeb & Zeke Turner (real names William and James Grishaw) were born, to be incorporated into a local TV program on the City's government channel in the near future. I have done extensive research on the Internet and have been in contact with family members; however, I'd like to know if there are others who would be willing to share photos, stories, TV clips, or memorabilia. (Zeke Turner was a cast member of Midwestern Hayride.) Thank you!

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