LeMars, Iowa…..The home of the largest ice cream factory in the world, LeMars, Iowa, is preparing to welcome Madison, Wisconsin, residents K G & The Ranger, to their city.  They are to be inducted into America’s Old Time Country Music Hall of Fame, on Wednesday, August 31, in Iowa.
     The Hall of Fame has been in existence since 1976, when Bob Everhart, President of the National Traditional Country Music Association, formed a 501(c)3 non-profit group devoted to the preservation, perpetuation, and performance of America’s ‘rural’ country music.  “We called it the National Traditional Country Music Association, and we had to find a way to better define what we do,” Everhart said recently, “because the country music we represent is quite different than the country music we mostly hear coming from Nashville these days.  For the past 36 years, we have been working hard to not only capture the essence of what country music once was, but to keep it alive, and honor those that have made significant contributions to the genre in recent years.  Therefore we have taken up the word ‘rural’ to better define what our ‘country’ music is all about.”
     Country music in Everhart’s opinion might be ‘rural,’ but the contributors come from all walks of life, and offer many different styles from the past.  “We just never cease to be amazed at the wonderful parade of country music performers that come to our annual convention-festival,” Everhart added.  “It’s actually the largest old-time acoustic music event in the entire upper Midwest, and includes great participation from bluegrass, folk, and even rag-time, western, and old-time fiddle music performers, as well as country.  By keeping it acoustic, we are able to better present what country music sounded like during it’s golden age.  We’re also able to present more stages for the performers.  We’re now utilizing ten stages.  Can you imagine that, ten stages running 9am to midnight every day for seven days, and we are still having difficulties getting everyone on that wants to be on.  Performers of America’s classic country, bluegrass, western, and folk music come from around the world.”
     The 2011 dates for this unique gathering of thousands of old-time country, bluegrass, and folk music fans is August 29 through September 4th, at the Plymouth County Fairgrounds in LeMars, Iowa.  “We have several really large buildings to use for the performances,” Everhart added, “our main-stage building is even air conditioned.  It seats 1,000 comfortably, and the next door adjoining building, which we call the Dance-Hall, is equally as large.  Last year we had Bill Anderson from the Grand Ole Opry for Hall of Fame induction, and he had to do two shows, one on the main stage, and then another on the Dance Hall stage.  The legendary Patti Page was with us last year as well, and it was a similar experience.  This year Jim Ed Brown, Helen Cornelius, and Jeannie Seely are with us from the Grand Ole Opry, and we have several performers who were on the Louisiana Hayride.  The legendary Bonnie Guitar will be with us too.  Ms. Guitar recorded “Dark Moon” a number of years ago, but is perhaps best known for her tutoring two groups to fame, the Fleetwoods and the Ventures.  Neither of these groups were ‘country’ music oriented, but it was Bonnie Guitar that showed them how to play unique and different methods and styles on the guitar.  Unique super-pickers find their way to our corn-field too,” Everhart added.  “We’re not really in a corn-field, but we could be.  Eddie Pennington, a ‘Merle Travis’ style guitar picker will be with us, as will the famous Tut Taylor, who performs on the resonator guitar.  Both of these pickers come from Kentucky.  Oklahoma fiddler Jake Simpson, and three-time world champion flat-picker from the Winfield, Kansas competitions, Jason Shaw, will also be on hand.  Add to that about 600 more pickers and players, and you have a good idea of what this unique event is all about.”
     “KG & The Ranger is also unique, ” Everhart added.  “KG is actually Karen Gogolick and the Ranger is Rick Roltgen.  They both make their home in Madison, Wisconsin.  We are doing our very best to keep old-time cowboy and western music alive in the upper Midwest, and the best way to do that is to present good performers of this kind of music.  We were so fortunate to get Janet McBride from Dallas, Texas, to host the program, she has been very active in keeping the music of Patsy Montana alive.  Our incredible program of western music will take place on Wednesday night of our festival, on the main stage, and will present a number of extremely good performers, among them KG and the Ranger.  Cowboys have always held a special place in the hearts and imaginations of Americans, and the music that came from the early cowboy movies still resonates with audiences of all ages.  It doesn’t matter if it’s the image of cowboys driving longhorns from Texas to Iowa, or those that wear white hats, playing guitars and singing their cowboy songs on the silver screen.  Both evoke a sense of pride and respect.  Western music itself, is a unique blend of folk, country, jazz, and even a little pop, and cowboy heroes and the Old West come back to life when this award winning duo take the stage.  Not exactly the first stage out of town, the main stage at the LeMars festival.  They are regular performers at Silver Dollar City in Branson, Missouri, the Ozark Folk Center in Mountain View, Arkansas, the National Festival of the West in Phoenix, Arizona, and the list goes on and on.  We probably would not be so active in bringing this kind of music to our country festival, except the last ‘within reach’ festival of cowboy music in our area, was in Gene Autry, Oklahoma, which finally ended.  KG & The Ranger have shared the stage with many of our well known western performers, Roy Rogers Jr., Sons of the San Joaquin, Riders in the Sky, Johnny Western, Don Edwards, and even Michael Martin Murphy.  Combine this with some other professional western entertainers and you have one serious program of excellent music.  Maybe we’ll even have a long-horn steak out there on the prairie.”
     “We have some of the best mid-west corn-fed beef steaks in the world at our food court,” added Everhart.  “Super good food, super good music, and super good interaction between musicians make for a lot of impromptu ‘jam sessions.’  There’s also a Tipi Village where a lot of pickers hang-out, and we also have a Pioneer Exposition of Arts, Crafts, and Rural American Lifestyle for those that need extra things to do.  What profits we might make goes to the Pioneer Music Museum which is located in Anita, Iowa, and is home to ‘America’s Old Time Country Music Hall of Fame.’  We also have a great ‘western music’ display in the museum with three of the most popular early cowboy guitars, a Stella, a Silvertone, and a Kay.  Great RV camping with electricity ($12 per day), and we caution all visitors to bring lawn chairs for their own comfort.  Admission is $15 per day, per person (which includes all ten stages and all celebrities) or a 7-day open gate pass for $60 per person, which includes all ten stages of entertainment.’
     More information about the festival, and the activities of the National Traditional Country Music Association can be found at their website:

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