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.
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.
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.
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 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!
The Down Homers