Square dance + ice cream social mean old fashioned fun!


The Historical Society of the Town of Middletown will celebrate ten years of promoting, preserving and presenting local history with a square dance and ice cream social on Sunday, July 19 at its hall located at 778 Cemetery Road, Margaretville.
John Jacobson, fiddler and caller, will lead the Tremperskill Boys in an afternoon of Catskills traditional music. Doors open at Noon, the dance starts at 1 p.m., and ice cream and cake will be served at intermission. Admission is $10; children 15 and under are free. www.mtownhistory.org
No dancing experience is necessary to participate in this family friendly event, which is in keeping with community dances, picnics and parties held over many decades by the Izaak Walton League and later by the New Kingston Valley Grange, former occupants of the HSM hall.
Ginny Scheer, director of Catskills Folk Connection, will offer the folk and historical context of square dancing in the Catskills and will guide dancers on the floor. Beginners are welcome; dances of interest to veteran dancers will also be called.
Square dancing is about community, so come enjoy dancing with your neighbors and make new friends, too. But if you don’t feel like dancing, just come listen to the music, with its origins in Irish and Scottish traditions. Bring a picnic to enjoy by the pond! An exhibit of items from HSM’s collection of artifacts and memorabilia is also on display at the hall for the summer.
Musicians in addition to John Jacobson will include Amy Liebermann on upright bass, Chris Carey on banjo and Sheila Addison on guitar. A special guest on July 19 will be Casey Mullaney who calls lively contra dances, a type of line dance common in New England that is being revived in this area.
The band’s repertoire explores the roots of Celtic music, and pays tribute to the music and square dance calls of the late Hilt Kelly of Red Kill. The Tremperskill Boys along with Henry Hermann served as Hilt’s backup band, thereby extending his playing and calling in his later years. John Jacobson became Hilt’s protégé and studied his tunes and calls as well as dances by other Catskills’ callers recorded at Camp Woodland.
Catskills Folk Connection is a virtual folklife center, established by Ms. Scheer and folklorist Karyl Eaglefeathers in 2007 to celebrate and preserve the folklife of the Catskills Region. It is sponsored by the Roxbury Arts Group and, with monthly square dances, supported Hilt Kelly, his band and his dances until his death earlier this year. “It was a great privilege to be part of the life of one of the great musicians of our region,” says Scheer, “and we will do our best to perpetuate his musical heritage.”
In addition to supporting Catskills music and dance, Catskills Folk Connection is conducting field work about the folk arts of farm women for the New York Folklore Society, and is researching a local folk painter, Nelly Bly Ballard, in a project funded in part by the New York State Council on the Arts and the O’Connor Foundation.
For more information, tune in to Catskills Folk alternate Tuesdays at 7 p.m. on WIOX 91.3 FM and www.wioxradio.org, or take the “Catskills Vernacular Architecture Challenge” at www.catskillsfolkconnection.blogspot.org.