Cowboy crooner brings Old West stylings to Harkin Store

Staff photo by Clay Schuldt Lonesome Ron croons for Harkin Store visitors Sunday during the store’s annual Western Day program.

WEST NEWTON–Visitors to Harkin Store were treated to the cowboy song styles of “Lonesome” Ron Affolter Sunday afternoon.

Lonesome Ron is a returning guest for the Harkin Store’s Labor Day programming. Affolter has been performing at the old general store for at least 15 years and continues to be popular with visitors.

Affolter is a versatile singer. He has sung with many bands and even worked as an Elvis impersonator. His cowboys’ ballads are famous for his ability to yodel.

Affolter said it took years of practicing to yodel. Like everything, he began with the simpler yodels before moving on to more complex music.

Affolter was able to perform all his cowboy tunes without sheet music, playing from memory. He even took requests from the audience.

One of his favorites is “I Saw the Light” because it fulfills multiple requests from audiences. Its a song cover by several legendary singers, its gospel and it is a great sing-a-along.

The Harkin Store had more than enough visitors for cowboy sing-along. The lower parking lot was full for most the afternoon. The historic site had several families visit over the holiday weekend.

Site Manager Ruth Grewe said as of Saturday they had over 3,000 visitors for the season, which is an improvement over last year.

The last week has been great for historical tourism. Grewe said guests have been especially curious lately, asking all kinds of questions about the store and how it came to be.

Records show the store has seen visitors from 32 of the 50 states and visitors from 10 different countries. The store had three international visitors on Sunday alone. Tourists from Italy, Denmark, and Brazil all visited the Harkin Store.

Grewe said it was all the more impressive since a lot of their promotion is through word of mouth.

Next Sunday, the Harkin Store will continue programing with a Grandparent’s Day. Kids are encouraged to bring their grandparents to the store for old fashion activities and games.