Fair memories: Singing cowboy was a big hit in 1958

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008
— Superstars have come and gone at the Rock County 4-H Fair, and Judy Henke has seen a lot of them.

But as far as she’s concerned, none was bigger than Gene Autry.

The movie star/singing cowboy sang at the fair in 1958. Henke was a young mother of 23 at the time, but as a young girl, her bedroom was plastered with pictures of Autry.

“He was like a movie star nowadays,” she recalled. “He was my movie star, and he did have a very nice singing voice.”

Henke’s father-in-law, Fred Henke, was superintendent of the fairgrounds and arranged for Judy to meet Autry.

She doesn’t remember much about the meeting. They shook hands and posed for a photo. And that was about it.

But Henke treasures the memory.

“He was my heartthrob all the way through school,” she said. “I am 72 years old, and I still get a zing in my heart when I think about him.”

Henke said she’s looking forward to hearing Randy Travis perform Friday night. She has seen him before, and he was good, she said.

But he was no Gene Autry.

Last updated: 9:45 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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