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Hee Haw’s country-style humor

Claysburg’s annual program brings laughs to young, old

Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec / The Clothesline Singers, (from left) Dana Ebersole, Kera Knisely, Elaine Smith and Bethany Claar, perform during the annual Hee Haw show Friday at the Claysburg-Kimmel High School auditorium.

CLAYSBURG — “Hee Haw” may be long gone from the list of current TV shows, but the Claysburg Rotary Club has wrapped up another year of generating laughter with country-style humor.

“I come because it’s hilarious,” said Wanda Leonard of Duncansville, walking into the 17th annual show at the Claysburg-Kimmel High School on Saturday night with her granddaughter, Violet.

When asked if the 11-year-old knew anything about “Hee Haw,” the youngster shook her head no. It was her first time, she said, to attend the community variety show based on a TV program her grandmother enjoyed.

“She’ll like it,” Leonard said. “I know she will.”

CBS introduced and aired “Hee Haw” from 1969-71, before the show began a 21-year run in local syndication. Country musicians Roy Clark and Buck Owens were hosts, aided by country entertainers Junior Samples, Minnie Pearl, Lulu Roman and Grandpa Jones.

The hour-long program included jokes, skits and some recognizable musical ditties, like the one that starts: “Where oh where are you tonight?” Sing that within earshot of someone over 50 and the response will likely be: “Why did you leave me here all alone?”

“I like it when the audience sings along,” said Dot Summers, Claysburg, one of the many women who sings in the show.

“I like it when the women sing,” said Jake Ebersole of Claysburg who has been singing in the men’s chorus for about 10 years. “Their voices are so good.”

“I think the men are pretty good too,” Summers said.

Roger Knisely of Claysburg, said he has been involved in the show since the first one in 2001 and enjoys the jokes best.

“I remember the old “Hee Haw” show so this brings back good memories for me,” Knisely said.

Dan Crist of Claysburg, community chorus director and show coordinator, gets credit for organizing another successful show that opened Friday and was followed by Saturday’s repeat performance.

One reason behind the show’s success and popularity, participants said, is the involvement of local people and references to them and to local places.

“I like the Clothesline Singers,” said emcee Heidi Kennedy in reference to Elaine Smith, Bethany Claar, Kera Knisely and Dana Ebersole.

Just like in Hee Haw, those four women presented a humorous skit while pretending to do laundry in front of a clothesline.

“Elaine Smith writes the jokes for them, and she puts in things about people in town,” Kennedy said. “It’s just so funny, and she does a great job with that.”

Others said they enjoyed guest performers, including the Wills Mountain Cloggers on Friday night and the Horseshoe Cloggers on Saturday night.

“The clogging and the singing,” Jean Gordon said when asked about her favorite part of the show while handing out program booklets. “I used to do both, but I can’t do either anymore.”

Gordon’s niece, Brenda Marriner of Claysburg, said she enjoys singing in the chorus and telling a couple of the jokes.

“This is the one time of the year,” Gordon said, “when you can make a fool out of yourself and nobody will say anything because they just laugh.”

Mirror Staff Writer Kay Stephens is at 946-7456.

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