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Midwestern Hayride
Cincinnati, OH

MidWestern Hayride

The WLW-TV "Midwestern Hayride" was a descendant of earlier radio shows, but didn't need to look to its ancestors for a claim to fame.

The hour long mix of songs and conmedy grew and was the first beamed out of Cincinnati to a national network on a regular basis. It was chosen to be a vacationing Sid Caesar-Imogene Coca show in June 1951.

Midwestern Hayride

It made its first appearance on WLW-TV in August 1948 after it had enjoyed many successful years of packed houses at the Crosley Square studios.

It reportedly did so well one summer season, that NBC returned it as a regular network feature in early 1952.

Midwestern Hayride

On June 3, 1955, the show debuted at Castle Farm, one of Cincinnati's largest dance pavilions back then. It's said that they had a capacity crowd of over 2,800 persons and they turned away nearly 500 more! Two shows were presented that evening, with square dancing provided between sets. The show had been advertised and ten days before the date arrived, the show was sold out. Tickets were sold for the price of $1.00. Yes, one dollar. Folks were driving from as far as 200 miles away to take in this show. The Midwestern Hayride's debut at Castle Farm was through the coordination and efforts of WLW Promotions, Inc., General Artists Corporation, exclusive booking agents of the Crosley Broadcasting Corporation Country and Western talent and Castle Farm management.

Midwestern Hayride

The Midwestern Hayride appeared each Friday night at Castle Farm, one hour after the NBC network portion of the show was aired from 7 to 7:30pm, EST. The show was a summer replacement for the Red Buttons and Jack Carson shows. The network portion of the show originated from the Crosley Square studios.

The arrangement allowed thousands to finally get to see the show. WLW-TV's Hugh Cherry was the emcee at the Castle Farm shows. On that evening, the special guest was Pee Wee King and Redd Steward along with their band, the Golden West Cowboys.

Midwestern Hayride

Midwestern Hayride stars appearing on that first show at Castle Farm were: Bonnie Lou, Rockin' Rudy Hansen, Mimi Roman, Skeeter Bonn, Buddy Ross, Clay Eager, Phyllis and Billy Holmes (Mr. and Mrs. Melody), the Geer Sisters, the Pine Mountain Boys, Winnie Mae and Betty, the Kentucky Boys, the seven "Hayriders", the Willis Brothers and two teams of Crosley's fast-stepping square dancers, the "Midwesterners".

The Midwestern Hayride had a reputation of being fast-paced. That got many people writing to emcee Bill Thall for a show twice as long!

Billy Holmes

George Arthur

Dixie Lee

Skeeter Bonn

The Hometowners

Lazy Jim Day

Pine Mountain Boys


Credits & Sources

  • Country & Western Jamboree; August 1955; Jamboree, Inc.; 2001 Calumet, Chicago, Illinois


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