‘Lonesome’ Ron croons at the Harkin Store

Staff photo by Fritz Busch “Lonesome” Ron Affolter of Mankato, aka the King of the Valley Yodelers, belts out cowboy music at the Harkin Store Sunday afternoon.

NICOLLET COUNTY — ‘Lonesome’ Ron Affolter belted out cowboy tunes as Harkin Store visitors climbed the stairs from County Road 21 to the old-time general store Sunday.

Also known as king of the valley yodelers, Affolter strummed an acoustic guitar to tunes including “Don’t Fence Me In,” written in 1934 with music and Cole Porter, lyrics by Robert Fletcher and Porter. Western Writers of America members chose it as one of the Top 100 Western songs of all time.

Affolter sang “Wabash Cannonball,” an American folk song that described the scenic beauty and trouble the express train had that traveled the middle and western United States in the late 1800’s into the early 1900’s.

The song is the oldest one on The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll list.

Affolter rolled into “Ghost Riders in the Sky,” a cowboy-styled country/western song written in 1948 by American songwriter, film and television actor Stan Jones. The Western Writers of America chose it as one of the Top 100 Western songs of all time.

“Back in the Saddle Again,” the signature song of American cowboy entertainer Gene Autry and another Top 100 Western song of all time, followed.

The Alan Sommervold family of Minnetonka visited the Harkin Store. The day before, they took part in Boxcar Days in Tracy, Alan’s hometown.

“It’s a cool store,” Alan said about the Harkin Store is now managed by the Nicollet County Historical Society. It features costumed interpreters in the original store building and some of the store’s original inventory. Programs are featured every Sunday through Oct. 21.

“Woody” Wurtzberger, who lives just east of the Harkin Store, visited too. He recalled visiting the store decades ago when it contained antique rifles and descendants of its original owners told stories of life in the Minnesota River Valley in days gone by.

On Sunday, Sept. 9, Grandparents and grandkids can enjoy playing games at the Harkin Store that were popular 150 years ago. Games include dominoes, tic-tac-toe, pick-up sticks, graces, checkers, and rolling hoops.

For more information, visit mnhs.org/harkinstore

Fritz Busch can be emailed at fbusch@nujournal.com.