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Square dance project features Ireland traditions

September 9, 2013
The Inter-Mountain

Square dances have been occurring in Ireland, W.Va., at the Irish Spring Festival for the past 32 years.

Resident Denton King said, "Square dances were common occurrences to initiate a new barn floor or a new addition on a farm-house. Folks of any age find a well-attended square dance to be good medicine."

In 2012, Ireland square dances became part of The Mountain Dance Trail, a new statewide heritage tourism project of the Augusta Heritage Center of Davis & Elkins College. This "trail" highlights 16 communities, from the Potomac Highlands to the Ohio River, where mountain square dancing takes place.

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A square dance is scheduled for 7 p.m. Sept. 21 at the Ireland Community Center off old Route 19 in Lewis County.

On Saturday Sept. 21, a square dance will be staged at the Ireland Community Center, off old Route 19 in Lewis County. The dance will start at 7 p.m. Admission is $5 for adults and $2 for students. Live string band music will be provided by the following local musicians: Rock Garten on fiddle, Jenny Smith on banjo, "Tater" Blake on guitar and Grafton Wine. Local callers Doyle Gillum and David Russell will be calling mountain circle square dances from the floor all evening.

"Whether you dance or not, the joy of square dancing to live fiddle music entertains both dancers and wall flowers alike," said Gerry Milnes, folk art coordinator for Augusta Heritage Center.

"West Virginia has a real treasure in its old-time square dance traditions and this project will ensure the tradition is preserved and maintained," Milnes continued. "No other state in the Appalachian region has a comparable tradition. These community square dancing can be found somewhere in the heart of the state every weekend."

All dances in the Mountain Dance Trail project are beginner- and kid-friendly. No partner is necessary. A complete dance schedule is available in the Mountain Dance Trail brochure and online at Information is also available by calling the Augusta Heritage Center at 304-637-1349.



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