August 31, 2009


Barn dance revives hoedown

About 100 people attend Saturday’s throwback to simpler times

DanceJoe McIntyre/staff photographer
Phyllis and Vernon Filkins of Scott dance to a Patsy Cline tune Saturday at a barn dance in Polkville.

Staff Reporter

POLKVILLE — Some came for a chance to relive the fun of the good old days, while others just wanted to listen to lively country tunes.
But it did not take long for the energy to swell as men and women do-si-doed and promenaded at Charles and Wendy Lacey’s barn dance Saturday night.
Lights hung overhead in the barn loft, and bales of hay lined the perimeter for people to sit on.
Homer residents David and Lorraine Howe, both sporting cowboy hats, brought their son Rollin and his wife, Roxanne, to the dance because it was good, clean fun.
Lorraine Howe, 75, who said she has been square dancing for nearly 50 years, said seeing the atmosphere inside the Lacey barn’s loft brought back memories of older times when such dances were very popular.
The Howes came to the Lacey barn last August when the Laceys hosted a barn dance for the Cortland County bicentennial celebration. That dance’s popularity prompted the Laceys to host another one this year.
“We just enjoyed it so much,” said Lorraine Howe. “It’s something you don’t hear of every day.”
The Laceys spent long hours repairing and cleaning out the barn at their own expense in preparation for the bicentennial barn dance. In advance of that dance, a mural was painted on the side of the barn off Weaver Road with a $5,000 grant from the New York State Cultural Resources Council.
Getting a crowd of people for an evening barn dance used to be very popular many years ago, said 69-year-old Phyllis Filkins of Scott. Filkins said she and her husband, Vernon, met each other at a square dance.
But declining interest and changing times made barn dances a less-frequented event, the couple said.
“People who do it get older and younger people don’t want to do it,” Vernon Filkins said.
“I just love the music and the dancing,” Phyllis Filkins said.
Others who attended were not as experienced in square dancing, but that didn’t detract from the fun.
Judith Conway, 24, came with her parents and her 13-year-old brother, Jonathan. Partnering with her brother, she took to the first square dance of the evening.
She said she loves to dance, but neither of them had done much square dancing before, but it was not too hard to figure out once they got started.
Her father, Lee Conway, cheerfully said hearing the caller over the music at times was probably the only hard part.
Lead couples and pointers from the band helped newcomers learn the ropes of square dancing.
Performing again at the barn this year was local band Route 66, a six-member country music group. The band has played at similar events and will perform Tuesday at the New York State Fair.
“These are fun, we enjoy something different,” band guitarist Merle Matts said of the barn dance.
While the dance did not bring as large a crowd as the bicentennial event, there is definitely enough interest to do another event, Wendy Lacey said Sunday.
More than 125 people attended the dance Saturday, compared to the more than 350 who came to the bicentennial dance.
Wendy Lacey said another dance could be held the third week in September.
“It’s wholesome fun and an opportunity to meet those in our community,” she said.


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