Past Event

The Hayloft Gang: The Story of the National Barn Dance

A Road Scholar Program by Stephen Parry

Filmmaker Stephen Parry invites audiences to discover the story of a changing America, told through the lens of one of early radio’s most popular and influential programs. From the Great Depression through the hardships of World War II, the National Barn Dance celebrated the folk traditions that were fading in an increasingly urbanized America and helped define an identity for a struggling generation.

For rural listeners unsure of the future, or for homesick transplants confronting the city, the National Barn Dance served as a touchstone, from its first broadcast in 1924 to its last in 1960. Preceding the success of the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville by nearly two decades, it made Chicago the capital of country music prior to World War II. A marketing pioneer, the program also made millions for network sponsors like Alka Seltzer. Moreover, it launched the careers of matinee idols, national radio queens, and cowboys’ sweethearts.

More information is available at

This event is Free and Open to the public. For more information, please contact Amy Vidlak Girmscheid at