Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Renfro Valley Barn Dance & Old Joe Clark

The square dancing on the postcard above is at the Renfro Valley Barn Dance which was broadcast on radio throughout the U. S. on Saturday nights. This postcard is from the late 1950s.

Renfro Valley Barn Dance was an American country music stage and radio show originally carried by WLW-AM in Cincinnati, Ohio on Saturday nights. It debuted on October 9, 1937 from the Cincinnati Music Hall and moved to the Memorial Auditorium in Dayton, Ohio. . . . The show later moved to larger quarters near Mt. Vernon, Kentucky in November 1939 and was carried by WHAS-AM in Louisville, the NBC Radio Network and WCKY-AM in Cincinnati. The program is no longer broadcast, but a live show bearing its name takes place on Saturday nights at the Renfro Valley Entertainment Center in Renfro Valley, Kentucky. A sister program, the Renfro Valley Gatherin' (established in 1943), continues to air. (source: Wikipedia).  

Renfro Valley Entertainment Center is celebrating its 75th Anniversary in 2014. You can read more about its history here, and you can listen to some of the Renfro Valley Gatherin Radio Shows here.

The next two postcards are probably from the 1960s. The man with the white beard is Old Joe Clark. "Old Joe Clark" is the name of a popular song and was the stage name of Manuel Clark (1922-1998) who performed from the 1940s into the 1990s on the Barn Dance as a singer, banjo player, and comedian. He is described as "A Living Legend" on the back of the postcards and "star of film and T. V., artist of the nationally famous Renfro Valley Barn Dance each Saturday night."

Play this Renfro Valley 1965 Movie Clip video to see see some good old time square dancing and hear some good old time country music.

For More Vintage Images


  1. Hmm, Old Joe Clark looks like Grandpa Jones from "Hee Haw."

  2. We used to square dance in gym class every Friday when I was in elementary school. It was fun.

    1. I remember square dancing in gym class too. I think it was in junior high.

  3. Wow!
    Seems like I remember square dancing on TV as a kid.
    Probably Nashville and the Grand Ole Opry.
    I did try it once at a special event in college.
    It was quite fun. You never knew what was coming next.

  4. Square dancing and Bluegrass fiddlin' - love both! Especially those breakdowns.

  5. Super to go with square dancing, and country music. I mentioned (like others above) how we did line dances in PE classes.

  6. Aren't they clever how they can all swap instruments like that! Obviously I'm not musician but I think that's really clever.

  7. Swing your partner and dosey do, we're on the same musical wavelength this weekend.

  8. Good to see the banjo/ I don;t seem to see it often enough these days.

  9. Square dancing was part of my life in the fifties too, but not at school, there were regular dances held in local halls. My yet to be met husband, in a different part of the state, was calling for square dances. Loved the music clip where they all swap instrumensts

  10. I can remember learning square dancing while on holiday at the coast in my teens, but can't remember any of the details.

  11. My square dance partner in junior high was Jerry. We also dated (if it can be called that in jr. high) but he always introduced me as his "partner".


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