Hank Williams in Sunset Park, PA

Dave the Spazz of WFMU’s Beware of the Blog just posted on Hank Williams, I can’t pretend to know too much about Williams, but what I’ve heard of him is pretty phenomenal.  So the recording of a live performance by Williams in Sunset Park, PA on July 13th, 1952 was pretty educational. From his music I always imagined him as this dark and brooding figure (which I’m sure he was to some degree), but what’s great about this recording is how funny he is.  He tells a joke/anecdote about a guy who was in the doghouse with his wife, so he sent her a letter enclosing a check payable for a 1,000 hugs and kisses. Only to receive a letter back from his wife letting him know the iceman cashed that check this morning 🙂 Also, the music is pretty awesome as well. And perhaps a hymn is in order, “I Saw the Light” is wonderful. There is also a bit where he’s pushing his song books towards the end of the performance, offering autographs. Seemed like quite a different, personable venue for an icon of 20th century popular music.

Anyway, here it is, Hank Williams performing in Sunset Park, PA on July 13th, 1952

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45 Responses to Hank Williams in Sunset Park, PA

  1. JD says:

    Thank you! Excellent – even better than the Mother’s Best shows –

  2. Croz says:

    Just curious: do you have permission to hotlink to files hosted by WFMU?

  3. Reverend says:


    You know, I’m not sure. I figure WFMU is cool with it given I trackbacked to the original post, and simply linked to the actual audio file. That being the case, if they suggest they’re not cool with it, I’ll gladly take it down and leave the link to the original post, not too big a deal.

  4. Croz says:

    Just FYI, hotlinking is really frowned upon in general, even just hotlinking pictures. In this case it is an audio file which is considerably bigger. It uses up somebody else’s bandwidth that they have paid for, and in the case of WFMU they go through a lot, I’m sure. If you can host it yourself that is always the way to go. Cheers.

  5. Reverend says:


    Good advice and thanks, I’ll take that approach and save WFMU some bandwidth, particularly given how much their blog rules.

  6. TJBigDog64 says:

    Man ol’ man! It just doesn’t get any better than ol’ Hank!
    Sunset Park and New River Ranch are all but gone now. Just a mere memory. How sad; I really wish they were still around for us younger ol’ timers to enjoy. 😉

    • Roy Lare says:


  7. joe bands says:

    anyone know where the old farm is located in west grove , like a address? if have info please e-mail me @ [email protected]

  8. Becky says:

    This is great!!! I am now 35 years old, but have a lot of memories from Sunset Park. From as early as I can remember until the time I was around 12 of 13 (and wanted to stay home) my parents would pack us up every summer weekend and we would go camping at Sunset Park. So many great summer memories from childhood were there. I’ll have to get an address from my father for you.

  9. Jack says:

    If you’re interested in the history of country music parks, check out the video documentary entitled “Buck Lake Ranch: Nashville of the North.” Read about it at newshoundproductions.com

  10. Tonya says:

    OMGoodness….I remember as a young girl when my grandparents would take me to Sunset park and we’d listen to those good ol’country singers! I still have pictures of some of them up on the stage singing! Randy Travis was the most recent one. I just have such good memories from there!

  11. Patzie says:

    I remember well both Sunset Park and New River Ranch. I first saw Elvis, about 1955, at the latter. My dad said, pointing at Elvis ‘remember this guy…he’s gonna be big’!! Many, many memories of both. I’m sorry they’re not operating today.

    • Reverend says:

      Your dad could have not have been more right. A pretty cool thing to have seen both the Alabama Shakespeare and the King of American music-not enough folks can say that.

  12. Patzie says:

    Yes, you are surely right! My mom and dad both saw Hank and Elvis – Hank while they were living in Ohio and Elvis after moving to Maryland. I grew up hearing about Hank’s sense of humor. Take care, p

  13. Joe says:

    Thanks for posting this. That was great. I have one of those song books Hank was talking about. The man I bought it from said he got it from the man who got it from Hank when he played at Sunset Park, so this was a real treat. Thanks again.

    • Reverend says:


      That’s pretty awesome, you have a physical piece of that event, and now a virtual one. Would love to see a scan of that songbook 🙂

  14. Friendly neighbor says:

    I just returned from the hospital visiting my 96 year old neighbor. She was talking about Sunset Park and the big bands that would stop on their way to New York or leaving New York for California. There was one big band leader she just couldn’t remember so I thought I’d google Sunset Park and see if I could find something to jog her memory. I’m not sure that Hank Williams was who she was thinking about but I’ve always enjoyed him and was thrilled to listen to his show. I’ll play it for her when she gets home! Meanwhile I’m looking for a roster or some kind of schedule from the early ’50s.

  15. Leo Reaver says:

    I remember when we used to go to new river ranch and sunset park we were poor but we always found away to get money to go.we came from Hanover Pa and we saw
    alot of stars and have alot of memories it is ashame that is all gone.

  16. Leo Reaver says:

    I remember when we used to go to new river ranch and sunset park we were poor but we always found away to get money to go.we came from Hanover Pa and we saw
    alot of stars and have alot of memories it is ashame that is all gone. If anyone could
    tell me how to find the old fram I would love that.e-mail [email protected]
    thank you.

  17. Leo Reaver says:

    When I was a young fellow I remember when my brother and I brought our wives to sunset park we were from Hanover Pa We were poor but always managed a way to come to the shows at sunset park We saw alot of stars their and have many memories and I can’t believe Sunset Park is gone forever

  18. Former West Grover says:

    Get off Jennersville exit from route 1 onto 796S. 1/2 mile south from 796 and old baltimore pike.

    It’s an old folks home and a strip mall now.

    • roy lare says:

      PA HISTORICAL MARKS IT AT The proposed location for the marker is by the junction of Waltmans Lane and South Jennersville Road (PA Highway 796), close to the site of the former entrance to Sunset Park.

  19. diane miller clayton says:

    my dad Sonny Miller played the fiddle with a many of bands there every Sunday. we looked forward to going there every Sunday. DOES ANYONE OUT THERE REMEMBER THE INDIAN DOWN BY THE WATER FOUNDATION? trying to find out what his name was. please let me know. i am on facebook as Diane Clayton from bloxom va. thank you so much

    • Brenda Etzweiler Kantner says:

      I was going through searches for Sunset Park after hearing Mel Tillis mention it on the new Ken Burns Country Music documentary, and happened across your comment. I remember dad taking me there as a kid. Saw you dad is Sonny Miller. My dad, Paul Etzweiler, and your dad knew each other, and played together a few times.

  20. John P. "Jack" Dunn III says:

    My Uncle Jim Dunn played drums at Sunset park in the early 60’s with Johnny Cash, Faron Young, Webb Pierce etc. He passed at the young age of 32 in 1966. He wore a wrist watch given to him by Johnny Cash. Engraved on the back; To Jimmy Dunn dated 1963 Thanks for help make Ring of Fire Jonnny Cash. I was 12 when he died, I know it was a very long time ago, would anyone out there by any chance have known or have any photo’s of Johnny Cash performing on stage, hoping he might have been in some photographs. February 01,2012

  21. dan says:

    my father got to be on stage some times at sunset park he passed away about month before the 911 towers where hit by the 2 planes he was not any kind of pro but him and me loved that park so much and all the music that we went there every weekend i wish it was still there because i would still be going there one last thing i would like to know if there are anymore parks still around like sun set park i am also on face book

  22. Casey Waltman says:

    My grandparents were the owners of Sunset Park. They are in their 90’s and still live in the farm house on the corner. My grandfather would be thrilled to read these comments of all the memories you have. I am one of five kids and my siblings were raised working in the park; selling t-shirts, ice cream, etc. I was only six when the roof caved in, but the memorabilia is all over their house and I’m glad to hear that Sunset Park hasn’t been forgotten.

    • Jessica says:

      hello! I am the owner of Sunset Ice Cream parlor on lycoming creek road as of October 2013. I am trying to find more information or pictures of the park to hang in the parlor! If you have ANYTHING, even just the whole story of Sunset Park would be great! My email is [email protected] THANK YOU!

      • candie says:

        I have a picture of my father, grandfather and Hank together at this concert. It is a treasure in our family!

  23. Eugene Rank says:

    I remember the days at Sunset Park, River ranch, Valley view, Pequea Silver Mines and all the fire Company carnivals in PA.
    Now living in Florida and it is nothing like back home.

  24. Cindy Robins says:

    We camped often at Sunset Park back in the 70’s. I’ve seen many fantastic entertainers there. My favorite was Billy “Crash” Craddock. Anyone remember him? The Rub It In guy. Anyway, being little, I always managed to squeeze in right up front and center and Crash shook my hand (as I recall most all of the entertainers stayed to shake hands), well, he had the strongest and best smelling cologne on and I could smell him all the way home.

    Were the bathrooms outhouses? I think they were.

    I’m glad I googled this. Brings back lots of great memories. Best wishes to the Waltman’s.

  25. brenda tenenbaum says:

    as one of my childhood memories was just about every sunday we go to sunset park to see some country singer that where I learned to love country music I seen a lot of them there too many to list.

  26. Russ Letson says:

    I remember seeing Porter Wagoner and the Wagonmasters with Dolly Parton back around 1970 at Sunset Park when I was about 10 years old – great memories!

  27. robertgainer says:

    in the ’50’s my mom n dad dragged me n my sister there about every sunday. we use to wait at the back of the stage n get the performers autographs on the glossy 8 x 10’s. my sister and i nagged my dad to buy our pony off the pony ride his name was thunder we had him for about 3 years they also had a white pony there

  28. Dave Black says:

    My Grandmother Grace Black owned the Sunset Cabins on Old Baltimore Pike close enough to hear the music from Sunset Park. I remember going there once in the mid 1960’s.

  29. johnny jerrell says:

    i don’t remember seeing the greats except loretta lynn but we used to go down to the old fidlers picnic held in sept.Always had a lot of good bluegrass bands and they played up into the evening. I sure miss those parks.To bad they will never return

  30. Greg Bickta says:

    My parents and sister religiously went there EVERY Sunday from about1979 to closing. I believe the only time they missed was when someone was in the hospital. I probably was there about 20 times. My family has passed they were Sherwood, Evelyn, and Sherri Bickta. They would bring my son Gregory with them every Sunday. Since my sister passed earlier this year I have in my possession thousands and thousands photos many of which were taken at sunset park ……many memories just looking through them

  31. The park was great kid rides and good good country music for every one to enjoy

  32. Richard Carney says:

    I am glad to have found this site. My parents would take the whole family to Sunset Park several times a year during the 1950’s and 1960’s. I was ten years old and was there for this show and have remembered it and think about it every time hear about Hank or listen to one of his songs. I live in the St. Louis Missouri area now but I was visiting back home this past summer and was sorry to hear the park was no more. A lot of good memories of our family visits there growing up.

  33. Arville says:

    Saw Loretta Lynn and Conway Twitty there with my grandfather .Not sure what year ?

  34. glenn mcqueen says:

    I was there on that day in july 1952 but I was only 2 years old.. I lived just up the road from the park

  35. Peter W Sibley says:

    I’ve always enjoyed your initial impressions of this show. Hope you are still alive.

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