| Submitted by Ray Evans
I have always been proud of the fact that I was born 2 ½ miles from Renfro
Valley at the head of what now is Lake Linville in Rockcastle county. I can
well remember the first broadcast of the Renfro Valley Barndance from the big
barn in Renfro Valley. It was neat that what was being broadcast on the radio
that Saturday night on November 4, 1939 was actually happening just down the
road a piece from our house. The show started with a rousing theme song
Come on along, Were going to have a big time tonight.
You could hear John Lair welcoming the radio audience to the big barn in Renfro
Valley. It was not long until autos with license plates from every state in the
country could be spotted in the parking lot. Some of the performers became
quite famous. Most notable were probably: Lily Mae Ledford and the Coon
Creek Girls and the musical comedy team of Homer and Jethro
Some of the songs from that era became country music standards. Among them were
John Lairs Take me Back to Renfro Valley and Lily Maes
Pretty Polly At that time, Mr. Lair had one of the most
recognizable voices on radio. He was a true pioneer of radio broadcasting and
he brought a lot of fame and fortune to the remote Rockcastle county area.
It was a little strange in this remote mountain area around Mt Vernon and
Renfro Valley that we were literally rubbing elbows with nationally known radio
personalities on a regular basis. In addition when I used to visit my Aunt
Woodia Chasteen (1891 1983) in Louisville during the 1940s, I was treated
almost like a celebrity whenever she told some of her friends that I was from
In addition to the musical shows, Mr. Lair brought in horse shows and a rodeo
to the valley. The rodeo has some of the fanciest trick riding and roping I
have ever seen.
Renfro Valley celebrated its 60th year of operation in 1999. My family and I go
back two or three times a year to see the barndance and other shows. It has
survived some peoples dislike of hillbilly music and the onslaught
of rock and roll music and other forms of entertainment. Mr. Lair
called it a place Where Time Stands Still. Of course that is not
true, but it comes as close as any place else in the world that I know of.