September 01 , 2008
Barn dance marks county bicentennial
More than 100 people attended Saturday’s event at Lacey barn in Polkville.
Photos by Joe McIntyre/staff photographer
As part of the Cortland County Bicentennial celebration, a barn dance took place Saturday evening on the property of Charles Lacey of Polkville.
POLKVILLE — More than 100 people do-si-doed and stomped their boots in the loft of the Lacey’s barn Saturday night.
The event was part of the Cortland County Bicentennial celebration, and in between songs, organizer Charles Lacey told the crowd he felt “overwhelmed” by the number of people who arrived early at the event.
“We only sold about 30 advanced tickets,” Lacey said. “I didn’t know what to expect, and I’ll be here until the last person goes home, even if that’s at 2 a.m.”
Lacey and about 15 volunteers sold tickets at the door of the gray barn and encouraged people to grab a dance partner and swing their cowboy hats underneath the glow of the white lights dangling from the rafters.
When not dancing, people looked at a display filled with historical photographs of Cortland County, bought ice cream from an outside tent, or sat on bales of hay and listened to the fiddle-playing and guitar-strumming of Route 66, a local country-Western band that played at the New York State Fair earlier in the week.
Before the dance, the Laceys used the barn as a storage area, and no one had raised livestock in the building for many years. The Laceys spent about five months painting and repairing the barn for the dance, Charles Lacey said.
“We did a lot of work to get ready,” he said. “But I like old barns, and I’m glad we did this.”
Lacey paid for the repairs to the barn out of his own pocket, and the mural on the east end of the barn was funded by a $5,000 grant from the New York State Cultural Resources Council.
The mural depicts Cortland’s culture and industry, including farming, factories, river transportation, and the emblem of SUNY Cortland, and was painted by local artist Jack Kampney as part of the bicentennial celebration.
Cortlandville Town Councilman Ed O’Donnell said he had not been to a barn dance in several years.
“Everyone used to come to a barn when it was finished, and there’d be dancing inside it,” said O’Donnell, who frequents local square dances. “Sometimes, the neighbors would help with building the barn, so it was a sort of thank you to everyone.”
Dick Crozier of Cortlandville said he came to the dance because he has been active in the other events celebrating the couty’s bicentennial.
“I’m enjoying it all right,” said Crozier, who wore an 1800s style suit and vest. “The barn really looks nice.”
The bicentennial celebration will continue Sept. 13 with a parade filled with floats depicting historical people, places and businesses. The parade will begin at 10 a.m. and will take place on Main Street in Cortland.
Lacey said he was not sure if he would hold the barn dance again next year.
“We’ll just see how everything goes tonight and what kind of comments we get from this dance,” he said. “And we’ll go from there.”
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