The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

News

January 8, 2013

Local square dance group ready to 'wheel around'

HARRISBURG — A local group is taking their square-dancing skills to the Pennsylvania Farm Show on Friday, but these dancers won’t be shining up their dancing shoes — they’ll be polishing up their antique tractors for the event.

The Middle Creek Tractors Swingers will once again be showing off their tractors’ graceful moves on the dance floor at 10 a.m. and noon Friday in the large arena at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg. The group uses tractors from the 1940s through 1960s in their performances, said group president George Frymoyer, of Mount Pleasant Mills.

“You know how you square dance on foot? Well, we do it on tractors,” he said. “The caller calls off the moves for us to do. We do a promenade, we do a ‘swing your partner’ and do-si-dos.”

The group is currently preparing for its 2013 season, which kicks off with the Farm Show performance. The group’s next performance is in May at the Middlecreek Valley Antique Association’s Spring Show in Selinsgrove.

The group’s members range in age from 16 to late 70s, and come from a variety of backgrounds and professions, with doctors, chemists, truck drivers and construction workers among the group’s ranks, Frymoyer said.

For performances, the tractors are separated into “male” and “female” tractors, with some male members of the group donning bonnets for full effect, Frymoyer said. One of the tractors, is even painted pink.

The idea for the group, which began in 2005, came about when Frymoyer — who was never interested in on-foot square dancing — retired and decided to try something he saw demonstrated once back in the 1950s, where a tractor company came up with a square-dance like routine to better hitch tractors and other farm equipment, he said.

“After I retired, I got this wild idea, ‘Why couldn’t we do something like that?’ he said. “Most people said, ‘Are you nuts?’ ... At first, our caller said, ‘This is going to be a demolition derby.’ Thank the Lord, we only had one accident that cost a tire.”

The group generally works through new routines on foot first to get the directions right, Frymoyer said.

The group is one of two tractor square dance troupes in Pennsylvania, the other being from Somerset County, Frymoyer said. The two groups meet at the Farm Show to do a combined show with 16 tractors along with their individual routines.

“We really never practiced it before,” he said. “It just worked out and I was surprised ... It’s a lot of fun.”

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