There’s something about Vermonters. They just love to bust a move. Wherever you are — whether it’s a third Thursday or a second Saturday — there’s sure to be a square dance, waltz or contra dance near you. There are few places in the world that know what heck you’re talking about when you box the gnat, do-si-do or do the California twirl.
We call them different things: Old Time Ball, Spring Fling, Fireman’s Ball, but one constant remains: dancing.
It’s not clear where Vermont picked up a love of organized dancing. Some trace it back to the Ed Larkin Old Time Contra Dancers, led by Edwin Larkin, of Tunbridge, who fiddled in Vermont dance halls for decades starting in the late 19th century. Some say Vermonter’s current love of cutting a rug started early, when elementary schools started subjecting students to square dancing.
Maybe though — in this land of rolling meadows and bountiful fields — Vermonters are just perpetually frolicking. But whatever it is, Vermonters like to move it, move it.
So if you want to dance with somebody, there’s no bigger event to take part in than this year’s 20th annual Barnard Street Dance.
Organizers are hoping for the biggest street dance ever. At least 15 vendors have signed up already for the event, which starts at 1 p.m. Aug. 16 and goes until 10 p.m. That’s nine hours, plenty of time for you to break out and perfect your Cabbage Patch, running man and funky chicken.
There will be food, so you can mix in some chips with your salsa, some tea with your krumping, and some jelly for your belly dancing.
And if you’re more of a wallflower or a private dancer, the festival features potato sack races, three-legged races, an egg toss, wheelbarrow races, as well as noodle races and boat races in the lake. The lake will also be filled all day with games like water polo, volleyball and basketball.
But really, you should be dancing. Yeah.
This year’s musical acts include: Blue Rooster, Quincy Mumford and Friends, Andy Lugo, Davey Davis, Colby Bridge, Lauren French, Joe Schenkman and Band, Bill Rea and Band, and the headliner: Jeanne and the Hi-Tops, a rockin’ blues and soul band that is bound to make you boogie all night.
It’s the event to attend if you like to dance like no one is watching. You can shake your groove thing, twist and shout and hippy hippy shake.
It’s going to be the best. I wouldn’t lie. And neither will my hips.
This article first appeared in the August 8, 2014 edition of the Vermont Standard.