Sesquicentennial Square Dance
Saturday, July 7, 2018 @ 7-10pm
Live Music by Red Herring Stringband
Family Friendly, Free & Open to All!

“When you arrive at a dance, people are so welcoming, you feel like you are coming home.” -Dee Dee Dougherty

To celebrate Otter Tail County’s 150th birthday, The Red Herring Stringband will be performing LIVE music for a series of old-time dances or gatherings. Sponsored by the Otter Tail County Historical Society, we’ll be at the Star Lake Town Hall, New York Mills Regional Cultural Center, the Dalton Opera House, and the Fergus Falls Eagles Ship. The New York Mills Old-Time Dance takes place Saturday, July 7 @ 7:00 p.m.

In the old days, dances were held at the town hall or in someone’s living room. The carpet would be rolled up, instruments tuned, neighbors would greet neighbors, and the fun would commence. Eighty-four year old Fergus Falls resident Susie Smemo remembers how, when the dances went late into the morning hours, the children all would fall asleep on a pile of coats as fiddle played on.

“Traditionally, It was a rural neighborhood affair usually with fifteen or twenty people in attendance. The musicians were local folks, often farmers.” — Bruce Bollard

We are reviving this tradition for the county’s sesquicentennial with live music at gatherings that are being sponsored by the OTC Historical Society. The Red Herring Stringband’s repertoire of heritage dance music includes fiddle tunes collected right here. Old-time music and dance are an incredibly fun and active way to span generations and celebrate our diverse ethnic histories.

Each event will start with a short concert of old time music. Then some simple round dances will be called and a series of easy square dance calls (Dosey-do, swing your partner) taught. Polkas and waltzes will be taught. Squares will be taught and led by a caller, so both experienced dancers and newcomers of all ages will be able to enjoy the dance.

The first dance will be at the Star Lake Town Hall on Saturday, June 9th at 7:00 PM. At the New York Mills Cultural Center, the dance will be on July 7th at 7 PM. In September we’re at the Dalton Opera House at 2:30 PM on Saturday, September 8th during the Thresher Reunion. The last and final dance will be at the Eagles Ship in Fergus Falls at 7PM October 6th. Come to one, come to them all!!

We are fortunate to have these local musicians of the Red Herring Stringband who love these tunes and dance traditions which have passed through many hands. And we want to share the fun with a new generation. So come on out, bring your parents or grandparents or your friends or children and have a grand old time!

In New York Mills, Dance is held in the main floor gallery of the Cultural Center from 7:00 p.m. until 10:00 p.m. Free and open to all. A cash bar will be available. For more information, contact Deb Wallwork at 651-216-4610 or the Cultural Center at 218-385-3339.


This Activity is funded in part by the Otter Tail Historical Society, and by the Lake Region Arts Council through a Minnesota State Legislative appropriation. This activity is also part of the Fergus Falls Year of Play, a partnership between the Department of Public Perks, Springboard for the Arts, and PartnerSHIP 4 Health with support from the National Endowment for the Arts.