IMPORTANT NOTICE: Our monthly meetings will be moving to the lower level of the Harlin Museum.
The mission of the George D. Hay Society is to preserve the connection of the Ozarks of south-central Missouri and north-central Arkansas with the world-famous Grand Ole Opry. The inspiration for the Grand Ole Opry came from a hoedown that George D. Hay attended in 1919 near modern-day Thayer, MO (about 25 miles southeast of West Plains) as part of an assignment with the Memphis Commercial Appeal, where he was working as a reporter at the time.
The Harlin Museum, located at 405 Worcester St. in West Plains, MO houses memorabilia from several music stars that have been inducted into the Society’s Hall of Honor. West Plains natives Porter Wagoner (1927-2007) and Jan Howard (1929-2020), along with Mr. Hay, were the Society’s first Hall of Honor inductees. Also on display at the museum is the story of the Opry.
Every year we host an induction ceremony at the Star Theater, at 205 East Main Street in Willow Springs, MO, where we have entertainers come sing and play for us and awards are presented to various musicians and people who help keep George D. Hay’s legacy alive.
The Society was founded by Eric Lewis, a West Plains native, in September of 2006 and formed in January of 2007. Eric Lewis is a longtime country and bluegrass music entertainer. In 2007, he was asked by numerous people to create a society and a website that documents the history, founding, and inspiration for the Grand Ole Opry, with this WordPress-based website being a continuation of the original website, with all of the information on the previous site being on here. In 2021, Fred McKinney, who also created this version of the website, became the Society’s new president. Presently, we have members living in 17 states. If you would like to help us preserve our history and heritage, we would love to have you become a member.