Missouri Valley Barn Dance

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Missouri Valley Barn Dance
Radio show from Yankton, South Dakota
publication 1944 - unknown
production WNAX
Moderation Smokey Ward
Eddie Dean

The Missouri Valley Barn Dance was an American country show broadcast by WNAX of Yankton , South Dakota .



WNAX was one of the first radio stations to go on the air and called itself " voice of the bridge builders ". In 1943, the largest radio tower in the world was built for WNAX and as its popularity grew, plans began to be made for a barn dance show with hillbilly music to entertain traditional populations. The first Missouri Valley Barn Dance was held around 1944. However, the principle was unusual for a Saturday evening show at the time: the audience didn't come to the show, but the show to the audience. Every Saturday the show was shown in a different city in Nebraska , Minnesota , South Dakota or Iowa .


The show was directed and produced by Herb Howard, who was previously employed by the WLS National Barn Dance . After a half-hour opening program, the actual show, which lasted an hour, was broadcast on the radio, followed by a square dance . The entrance fee was one dollar. The Missouri Valley Barn Dance has been hugely popular over the years, drawing large crowds in every city looking for some entertainment after a busy week.

Some of the members of the show included Eddie Dean , a western actor, his brother Billy, Al's Rhythm Rangers, Jack Reno, Ben & Jessie Norman and the Carson Sisters. The show's comedians were "cousin" Elmer Twirp and Little Eller, who was one of the show's biggest attractions with their comedy acts. Eller's husband, Smokey Ward, hosted the show and also excelled as a comedian. At the beginning of each show his saying could be heard:

" Here we are, folks, with lard on our hair and out ears pinned back like a bitin 'sow! "

Guests and members

  • Johnnie White and the Sons of the West
  • Ben & Jessie Norman
  • Larry O'Malley
  • Happy Jack O'Malley
  • The Carson Sisters
  • Jimmie & Dick
  • Al's Rhythm Rangers
  • Billy Dean
  • Eddie Dean
  • The Novelty Boys
  • Jack Reno
  • Sunny Dale
  • Cousin Elmer Twirp
  • Little Eller
  • Muriel Mae

Web links