50 Years of Horsecreek: Time sure sneaks up on a fella’

Last Updated:June 17, 2024
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50 Years of Horsecreek: Time sure sneaks up on a fella’ 50 Years of Horsecreek: Time sure sneaks up on a fella’
Heart & Soul

Cousins Larry Sledge and Butch Gregory will forever be part of these Ozark hills. The rolling landscape where they formed a family band 50 years ago at Silver Dollar City will soon grow a Dogwood down by the park’s Wilderness Church to celebrate their five decades of service.

“Our musical roots took hold right here. I sure hope our tree roots are just as strong,” Larry says. “Yeah, hope nobody cuts us down,” Butch laughs.

A pair of trees for quite the pair. The duo has been pickin’ on each other and pickin’ instruments since they were little boys growing up in southern Illinois. It was the Horse Creek that divided their two houses. A lot of music —and a little mischief—made up what they call a really great childhood.

“I always tried to be a really good boy,” Butch says. “Yeah, right,” Larry laughs.

In between playtime and school time, there was almost always an instrument in their hands. Both hard workers, Larry helped on the family farm until he was drafted into the Army. It was on a two-month leave from the service that he took a job at Silver Dollar City playing in a band. Butch was also performing gigs around the park at the time.

“You know, I don’t even remember the name of that first group,” Larry says scratching his head. Butch chimes in, “Well, I don’t think my first group even had a name!”

A few months later, they combined into a group that definitely had a name—Horsecreek, after the water that divided them growing up.

“It was only supposed to be for the summer,” Larry says. “But, they must have liked us because they asked us to stay!” “Mary Herschend was running the park at the time and I know she would have told us to get if she didn’t like our sound,” Butch laughs.

Larry Larry
Butch Butch

That sound has hooked countless visitors over five decades, including one special lady who came to a show 45 years ago.

“My wife was in the crowd and must have liked what she saw and heard,” Butch grins. “We’ve been married 45 years and she still comes to the show and roots me on!’

While performing Horsecreek shows keeps them busy, Christmastime at The City brings new adventure to these wise guys.

“We’re wisemen,” Butch squeals. “In the Living Nativity each November and December since the late 1980s. I tell people I used to be the young wisemen and now I’m the old one.”

Both guys certainly have wisdom in their eyes—eyes that still have that mischievous sparkle when they talk about their years together. They get nostalgic thinking about how fast the years roll by. Neither can believe they’ve found a way to make a living out of something they have loved for so long.

“Time sure sneaks up on a fella,” Larry smiles. “Every day is an adventure at Silver Dollar City. We still can’t believe we get to make music and go home at night. That’s a real blessing that’s not lost on us.”

While Silver Dollar City has grown over five decades, Butch believes the pioneer spirit is as strong as ever.

“All those years ago, we were just folks in a little picturesque mountain village,” he smiles. “It was quaint and happy. It’s still all of those things, it’s just grown up.”

“We’ve grown up too,” Larry says. “Right here. I remember Jack Herschend asking us on our 45th anniversary if we’d make it to 50. Here we are!”

They’ve got fire under their feet and plenty of pickin’ left. Will Horsecreek stick around to celebrate 60 years?

“I wonder what kind of gift we get for that,” Larry laughs. “As long as we can still play and spread joy, there’s no place we’d rather be,” Butch says. “We’ve met the most wonderful and fine folks over the years. There’s so many more to meet.”

Silver Dollar City’s 2024 Service Pin ceremony is on June 27. In addition to the Dogwoods planted for employees reaching the 50-year milestone, other commemorative gifts will be presented for various career milestones, including a custom-made sign hanging at the park for employees reaching 25 years.

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Meet Brandei Clifton

As Public Relations Manager for the Silver Dollar City Company, she is eager to tap into her journalism background to hunt down “heart tugs” to write about—those stories that celebrate…

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