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Square Dance Classes To Be Held In Bath

One of the first activities to take place in the newly renovated Millboro school will be a series of square dancing classes, taught by Eugene and Ellen Ratcliffe of Monterey, who are long time enthusiasts and teachers of the traditional dance. Ms. Ratcliffe spoke more about the classes and how they came about.

“We’re going to have one on the fourth Friday of the month of May, June, July, August and September. Then we’re going to have a square dance, I think it’s the 15th of October, using live music and she has a band ready to go forward with that, so we’re expecting to have a good crowd and have a good time.

“Jackie Plecker and I have been friends for a long time. She got me, and several others around here into the clogging, and we would go down there and have practice once a week, and of course we ended up at her house for pie and ice cream afterwards, so it didn’t do us much good getting all that exercise.

“She’s like Eugene and myself, we want to bring back this old time square dancing and preserve our heritage, pass these traditions on to these younger people, and just let them know what good times can be.

“Of course, Jackie is very adamant about getting the schoolhouse used – it is a community center, and she wants things happening there.

“There is no fee – a donation is appreciated, and it is sponsored by the Bath County Parks and Recreation Department. We just want people to come and have a good time, that’s the main thing – have a good time.

“We teach the basic square dance calls, figures – we’re going to do some big circle. That’s what we are used to around here, is what we call the Appalachian big circle.

She spoke about how their interest came about, and who they hope will attend.

“This is all we knew. This is what we grew up with – this is all we knew. It’s where people met, it was their social life, and it’s come into play by our settlers who came into the county, or into the country, let’s say.

“We have quite a following that goes with us different places, so I’m sure they’ll be there, and hopefully we’ll have some younger people. I like to start like maybe 10 years old – that way kind of have a little concept of music, and yet, they’re really not scared to hold hands. But I really do need to make sure that they do want to dance, and to have a good time.

“But that’s it – there’s three things you need to do: know who your partner is, and where you place your partner; who your opposite partner is, or your corner or your contrary- Eugene says I’m his contrary a lot of times; and a promise of having a good time. So that’s about  the three things.”

Story By

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Scott Smith

Scott is the News Director for Allegheny Mountain Radio and Station Coordinator and News Reporter for WVLS. Scott’s family has deep roots in Highland County. While he did not grow up here, he spent as much time as possible on the family farm, and eventually moved to Highland to continue the tradition, which he still pursues with his cousin. Unfortunately, farming doesn’t pay all the bills, so he has taken other jobs to support his farming hobby, including pressman/writer for The Recorder, and Ag Projects Coordinator for The Highland Center. He lives in Hightown with wife Michelle and son Ethan, and also is a member of the boards of the Highland-Bath Farm Bureau , Highland Chamber of Commerce and Highland Sheep and Wool Association. In his spare time, he wishes he had more spare time, especially to ride his prized Harley-Davidson motorcycle.

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