You don’t have to be a veteran to participate in square dancing at the 97th Pennsylvania Farm Show.
Just ask the Osman sisters from Lancaster.
The girls last year watched the Farm Show square dancing on PCN. Their parents then bought an introduction to square dancing CD. Soon, the whole family was square dancing in their living room.
Although there wasn’t quite enough room for nine Osmans to dance without bumping into each other, they danced well enough to agree to take lessons from the Lancaster County 4-H Club.
Last night, four of the girls put their new skills to use by participating in the state’s largest square dance, held in the state Farm Show Complex Large Arena.
Some 480 dancers in 60 eight-member sets made a grand entrance in the arena, the women and girls flouncing their skirts, the men and boys holding their partners’ hands. Soon, all were dancing and doing weaves, swings, stars and promenades to such tunes as “Fisherman’s Luck” and “I Like to Square Dance.”
George and Betsy Osman of Lancaster, who have four daughters and three sons ages 3 to 15, proudly watched their girls.
Joanna, 15; Rachel, 14; Julia, 11 and Ruth, 9, all danced like experts. Julia and Ruth danced with the “See Saws” while Joanna and Rachel danced with “Trivata.” Because some of the groups didn’t have enough boys, some of the girls played boy roles, wearing pants and kerchiefs instead of billowing skirts.
“My group didn’t have enough boys so I’m in one of the boy roles for the See Saws,” Julia said. “I like dancing as a boy because I get to be in charge, lead the girl and turn her so her skirt flows out. Square dancing is fun and the music is upbeat.”
Joanna also played a boy’s role. She says she especially enjoys the energetic dances.Sisters Rachel and Ruth said they enjoy wearing what Ruth calls “puffy” skirts.
“We took square dancing classes with the 4-H for eight or nine weeks,” Rachel said. “So we know the songs tonight. I’m excited to be dancing at the Farm Show.”
Then, it was time to dance.
After taking their places in their assigned squares, all the dancers stood still. Men and boys stood tall in ruffled shirts, ties and kerchiefs. Women and girls held their colorful skirts. Suddenly, all twirled into action on the dirt floor of the Large Arena.
Within minutes, the arena appeared to be a series of colorful spinning pinwheels, with ties and skirts billowing amid twirling and whirling. Some dancers appeared intent on their steps. Most danced simply for fun.
The Large Arena this week is hosting everything from the state FFA convention to the high school rodeo, cow patty bingo, carriage racing and tractor square dance. Yet it also seemed like the perfect place for the popular square dance competition. After all, where else could you have hundreds of dancers twirling around at the same time and thousands of spectators watching them as they tapped their feet in time to the catchy music? It doesn’t get better than this!