Barn Dance draws crowd to Memorial Hall

By Kitty LeShay - ReminderNews
Stafford - posted Tue., Jan. 22, 2013
‘Reel Thing’ musicians Sue Hill on fiddle, Julie Sorcek on flute, and Fran Hendrickson on keyboard play at the Barn Dance at Memorial Hall. Photos by Kitty LeShay.
‘Reel Thing’ musicians Sue Hill on fiddle, Julie Sorcek on flute, and Fran Hendrickson on keyboard play at the Barn Dance at Memorial Hall. Photos by Kitty LeShay.

Rich Sbardella and the Stafford Arts Commission have put together a new Barn Dance series which promises to be wildly popular. Ralph Sweet calling with the “Reel Thing” on Jan. 19 kicked off the first of four dances to be held through May. Sbardella, who wants to attract new and regular dancers, clearly met his goal for the first dance.

A number of the participants were seniors and home-schoolers from a group Sbardella has organized. “We have home-schoolers and seniors dancing on Mondays at the senior center at 12:30. Anyone who wishes may join us,” he said. Others came from all over the region - some because they are fans of Ralph Sweet, who has been calling since 1948.

Michele Karasik attended with her two daughters. “We came because we know the caller and he is really good,” she said.

Sweet is the owner of the Powder Mill Barn in Hazardville. He calls a contra series at that location every month and goes dancing at least once a week. “I met my first wife at a square dance, and my second wife, too. This style of barn dance is a social gathering,” he said. Sweet is not only a caller, but an instructor as well. His first priority was making sure everyone knew their right and left, and he demonstrated several moves with his partner, Kathy Cane.

Memorial Hall, located in the Historic District, makes a perfect venue for a barn dance. “I think a lot of people like Memorial Hall. It would be nice if it could be used more for events. This event brought out a real multi-generational crowd and they are having a good time together,” said Rich Longmore, as he watched more than 60 people twirling around the hall floor.

Sbardella was clearly pleased and energized by the turnout. “I hope to extend the next season from September to June,” he said.

The next three barn dances will be held at Memorial Hall at 275 Orcutville Road (Route 319): Feb. 16 - Bob Livingston calling with Sue Hill & Friends; March 16 - Tony Parkes calling with Sue Hill & Friends; May 18 - Patricia Campbell calling with the “Reel Thing.”


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