Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Louisiana Hayride: The Bossier Parish Years End

After thirteen years, it appeared as if the Louisiana Hayride was on its way to the big leagues. On Feb. 27, 1987, the following announcement, “Louisiana Hayride signs TV contract,” appeared in The Shreveport Times. It stated that “An agreement has been signed by the Hayride and Eagle Fidelity Productions of Beaumont and Dallas for weekly TV syndication of the country music show in at least 50 cities and expansion of the radio broadcast to more than 200 stations.

“David Kent, Hayride owner and producer, said Eagle Fidelity President Bill Starnes will become president and executive producer of the TV shows starting in June. Kent said he will continue as chairman of the board and emcee of productions.

“’Mr. Starnes is concentrating the television show in a 16-state area for the first 13 weeks and anticipates expansion into as many as 100 markets,’ Kent said. He said at least 200 radio stations are expected to pick up the program in June.

Advertisement for the last Louisiana Hayride show at the Benton Road
location in Bossier Parish. 
Source: "Shreveport Times," April 3, 1987
“’This will put the Hayride into the viewing and listening area of at least 100 million people and will be a giant step toward establishing Shreveport as a major production center for both radio and TV,’ Kent said.”

The Louisiana Hayride show made its last appearance in Bossier Parish at the Benton Road location on Apr. 4, 1987. But, as promised, a big homecoming at the Municipal Auditorium was held June 12 - June 14, 1987, where television cameras and production crews were in place to tape the event due to air on television Aug. 15, 1987.

Announcement of the Louisiana Hayride's homecoming show
at the Municipal Auditorium. 
Source: "Shreveport Times," May 31, 1987.
It was not long before the show moved back to Bossier. This time, it relocated to the Country Star, a club inside of Bossier City’s Ramada Inn, which was located at 4000 Industrial Drive.

Initially, relocating to this venue was expected to be temporary beginning Aug. 8, and lasting for five weeks. According to an article in The Shreveport Times on Aug. 4, 1987, “The move is an effort to cut costs before the show begins national television syndication. Bill Starnes, Hayride owner, said poor attendance was a factor. He said the show averages about 600 patrons each Saturday, when at least 1,000 are needed as base support.

“KWKH radio will continue its weekly live broadcasts from Country Stars. Tickets will be $5.

“The Hayride will return to Municipal Auditorium on Sept. 5, when the syndicated
television show begins. The show will be carried by KTAL, Channel 6. Starnes said he expects the Hayride to be in 80 TV markets by Sept. 12.”

The Hayride did not return to the Municipal Auditorium, but the show did go on as promised at its current location at Country Stars. Unfortunately, only two months later, on Nov. 4, 1987, it was announced in The Shreveport Times that the production of the Louisiana Hayride came to an end faced with financial troubles, including lawsuits. Regardless, Starnes expected to get the show back in operation in 1988, but the dream was never realized.

To learn more about the Louisiana Hayride, visit the Bossier Parish Libraries History Center at 2206 Beckett Street, Bossier City.

By: Amy Robertson

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