Marshfield MissouriCherry Blossom Festival


1952.  The Southwest Missouri State Promenaders Square Dance Club asked L. D. Keller to call at their weekly dance in the East Gym.  Jerry Hill, from Carroll County, Arkansas, introduced the group to jig dancing, which was an Ozark variation of Appalachian clogging.  They also increased the tempo to 165 beats per minute from the normal 120 bpm.  L. D. selected the two best teams and in the next 18 months they performed in over 40 benefits in the Ozarks.

1954.  In the Spring, the SMSC Promenaders performed at the National Square Dance Convention in Dallas, Texas.  They were the only dancers to receive a standing ovation from the 20,000 attendees from over the United States and Canada.  It was the first time they had seen jig dancing combined with square dancing.  Dr. “Pappy” Shaw, the Dean of Western Square Dancing, proclaimed the Promenaders "the best I've seen in years.  Their dancing was real square dancing, the kind they do back in the hills."

1954.  In July, the SMSC Promenaders were asked to perform on the nationally televised Ted Mack Original Amateur Hour in New York City.  They came in second.

1955.  The Promenaders turn professional, ending their association with SMSC.  Travel would often require students to drop school for at least a term.  Their first booking was a month long engagement at the Blue Room, Roosevelt Hotel, New Orleans.

1955.  The Ozark Jubilee, starring Red Foley, began national telecasting from Columbia, Missouri, on January 22nd.  The first few telecasts were from Columbia, while Springfield and the Jewell Theatre were wired to send out a signal over the phone lines.  The Promenaders became the weekly dancers in April.  Every Jubilee show in its five and half year existence featured square dancing.  If the Promenaders were traveling, another group such as the Tadpoles, Jigalongs, or Wagon Wheelers filled in.

1955.  Through the early 70's, the Promenaders traveled extensively doing fairs, stage shows, and rodeos.  Most were packages shows with Jubilee or Grand Ole Opry performers.  Below are a few exceptions. 

1956.  January was the start of a month long tour with Gene Autry.  Later in the year the Promenaders performed with Autry for three weeks at the Canadian National Exposition, Toronto, Canada and later that year the Golden Spurs Rodeo, Chicago.  In 1957 the Promenaders again worked for Gene Autry at the Boston Gardens Rodeo and a rodeo in Wisconsin.

1956.  The Promenaders were booked for three weeks at the Shamrock Hotel, Houston, Texas.  They performed two shows each evening for dinner guests.

1956.  Seventeen Magazine featured the Promenaders with the girls modeling different dresses.

1957.   The  Lone Ranger, Tonto, Lassie and the Promenaders were the featured entertainment

the Championship Rodeo at the Madison Square Garden, New York City.

1958.   The Promenaders are booked for a second engagement at the Blue Room, Roosevelt Hotel, New Orleans.

1961.  The Five Star Jubilee, starring Rex Allen, Snooky Lansing, Tex Ritter, Jimmy Wakely, and Carl Smith began six months of national telecasts from the Landers Theatre in Springfield.  The Promenaders were featured on a little over half the weekly shows because during that period they traveled extensively.

1964.  In March, the Slim Wilson Show began an 11 year run on KYTV in Springfield. It featured The Tall Timber Trio and Band, Goodwill Family, and L. D. Keller and the Promenaders.  Local entertainers also appeared as guests on the show. 

1969.  The last national appearance of the Promenaders was on the taping at Silver Dollar City for the Beverly Hillbillies.  The show aired on October 8, 1969.

1975.  At the end of the Slim Wilson Show, L. D. Keller elected to retire and the Promenaders disbanded.

In the 23 years of existence, over 80 dancers were members of the Promenaders.  Completing their education, careers, marriage, and military draft created the turnover.

A book, The History of the Promenaders, will be published this summer.  It is intended for family and friends.  It is estimated to be 275 pages and over 300 photographs with many stories about these memorable years of the dancers’ youth.