Note: Ballad Town U.S.A. was always a great event for barbeshoppers to attend, but it was a separate community event not connected to the Evergreen District or SPEBSQSA/BHS. It is being included in the history of our district, because many of EVG’s quartets and families enjoyed attending Ballad Town year after year.
The first Ballad Town USA contest was held on May 16, 1947, in Forest Grove, Oregon. Before that, the story goes that “a bunch of fellows were sitting around Don Parsons Barbershop (or maybe the old Forest Grove Hardware) talking about this new thing – four fellows singing some of the old songs in Barbershop style – whatever that was? Since Ralph Shumm had read that a Barbershop Contest had been held in the East, he thought we should give it a try. The response was, “Well, why not!” considering no one had the foggiest idea how one should be held. Under the able direction of Ace Hingston the first show was held in the Old High School (not the current “old high school” but the one where the Catholic Church now stands). With the help of many fellows, the show was a huge success, featuring the Millers Melody Men, Curly and the Three Baldies, and the winner, The Four Flats, of Newberg. These 4 guys could actually sing!
It was not your classic Barbershop Show as we know it today, but the fun was started. Those were the days, my friends, those were the days. Since that beginning, with the imagination of Ellis Lucia at the News Times, Ballad Town U.S.A. was born. Competition was expanded. Parades, Costume, Beard, and Window contests were added, along with the Fiddle Contest, Gem Show, and other activities over the years.”
We found a collection of photos and programs from the early years of Ballad Town U.S.A. If you were in one of the quartets who has won at Ballad Town U.S.A. since these photos ended, if you’d like to add your quartet name to the list (and photo, if you have one), we’d like to see this page grow.