Documentary director to speak at Lincoln Log Cabin Historic Site

Cassie Buchman, City Editor

Audience members will have the opportunity to see a historic documentary and interact with the director at a showing of “The Hayloft Gang: The Story of the National Barn Dance” at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Lincoln Log Cabin Historic Site.

Using footage from old performances, home movies, photographs from fans and performers, and interviews with folklorists, historians and media experts, “The Hayloft Gang” tells the story of the show “National Barn Dance.”

The “National Barn Dance” was a country music radio show that played traditional folk music and showcased country humor. It was broadcast from 1924 until 1960.

Matthew Mittelstaedt, the manager of the Lincoln Log Cabin Historic Site, said the documentary tells the story of America.

“It shows it through the lens of one of the more popular shows of the time,” he said.

Many celebrities of the time, such as Patsy Montana, Andy Williams, and Lulu Belle and Scotty were on the show.

Lori Henderson, president of the Lincoln Log Cabin Foundation, said Uncle Ezra, one of these celebrities and a comedian featured on the show, had a connection with the Lincoln Log Cabin Historic Site.

“We decided to show the movie about the ‘National Band Dance’ show because of Uncle Ezra,” Henderson said. “He spoke at the dedication of the site in 1936.”

Henderson said it was this connection with the community that made her want to show the documentary.

“We did some research, and contacted the producer to see if he would come,” Henderson said.

Writer, director and producer Stephen Parry will answer questions from the audience after watching the documentary

Parry has created other documentaries, such as “Down on the Farm,” which was about a year in the two farm families in Indiana, and “Old Friends,” which examined historical preservation efforts in Midwest communities.

He also explored music and how it impacted American culture in “Discover Bluegrass: Exploring American Roots Music,” a documentary meant to teach elementary school students about bluegrass music.

Parry has presented at the International Country Music Conference in Nashville and at Brown University.

The documentary and subsequent questions are being shown as a part of the Illinois Humanities Rhodes Scholar Program.

Mittelstaedt said the Illinois Humanities Rhodes Scholar funds a number of programs every year.

“This happens to be one of them,” he said. “They cover a variety of topics related to Illinois History.”

These programs have been on everything from cooking to French Acadiah music.

“Illinois used to be a part of New France before it was a part of the United States,” Mittelstaedt said.

Henderson said the Illinois Humanities Rhodes Scholar program is a grant program that funds speakers for the Lincoln Log Cabin Historic Site.

Cassie Buchman can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].