Fun Festival Squared

Twirlers dazzle with two days of dancing

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If the breeze picks up and the earth rolls under your feet a bit this weekend, don't worry. It is just an expected 300 square dancers swirling and twirling, stomping and kicking up their heels in the 28th annual Rim Country Square and Round Dance Festival.

Dancers are coming from throughout the state, New Mexico, California and elsewhere to participate in the festival sponsored by the Zane Grey Twirlers June 13 and June 14 at the Tonto Apache Recreation Center.

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Members of the Zane Grey Twirlers square dance club have been working for a year to present their big festival, which is this weekend, June 13 and June 14 at the Tonto Apache Recreation Center, ready to welcome about 300 dancers to Payson are, from left, Marlene and Rick Kubiak, Julie and Skip Shipp, Nancy Ragland and Duane Coyer. Take some time to watch the action.

Special guests for the festival are internationally known caller Jerry Story and cuers Ronnie and Bonnie Bond.

Mayor Kenny Evans will give a welcoming and thank you message prior to the finale Saturday night.

The activities start at 7 p.m., Friday, June 13 with cuers Ronnie and Bonnie Bond getting the dancers warmed up with pre-rounds. Mainstream and plus square dancing starts at 8 p.m., with Jerry Story calling the moves.

Festival participants have a pancake and sausage breakfast at 8:30 a.m., Saturday, June 14, followed by a welcome dance with guest callers and cuers.

Participants then have a round dance workshop from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and a square dance workshop from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

More pre-rounds start the finale at 7 p.m., Saturday, June 14, followed by a grand march by all the dancers at 7:45 p.m.

Mayor Evans will then address the participants at 8 p.m., followed by more mainstream and plus square dancing.

The public is invited to watch the dancing at no charge.

It takes the Zane Grey Twirlers club at least a year to prepare for each festival, not including lining up the callers and cuers for the event. "It takes about three years in advance to schedule someone like Jerry Story," said Jean Winfrey, club president.

The year of work involves getting area businesses and services to buy sponsorships in the dance program. That task is shared by the club membership under the direction of the festival chairmen -- this year the chairs are Ken and Ronda Caldwell and Neil and Elizabeth Burke.

"We couldn't put the festival on without the great support of the area's businesses," Winfrey said.

The story on Jerry Story

Story began calling square dances when he was only 14, living in Fairfield, Iowa. He took his calling skills on the road throughout the 1970s, primarily working in Iowa, Illinois and Missouri.

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Jerry Story is an internationally known square dance caller. He will be directing the estimated 300 dancers on the floor of the Tonto Apache Recreation Center at the Zane Grey Twirlers' 28th Annual Rim Country Square and Round Dance Festival June 13 and June 14.

The late 1970s saw him traveling the country, calling dances and festivals and moving into the international field.

He has been co-owner of Royal Records since 1985 and has numerous hit records to his credit.

He and his wife, Kristy, have two children, Joshua and Jacob, and split their time between Mission, Texas and Maggie Valley, N.C.

A bit on the Bonds

Ronnie and Bonnie Bond are originally from Albuquerque, N.M. and have been round and square dancing for 20 years. Now they spend winters in Tucson and summers in Show Low, when they are not on the road cuing round dances.

The couple is building a log home in Show Low, where they hope to one day retire. Free time is spent seeing family and bird watching.

More dancing

While it is too late to register to participate in the big festival this weekend, wait a few weeks and you can join the Zane Grey Twirlers at their regular dances, which are held at 7 p.m. the first and third Saturdays of the month at the Pine Community Center's cultural center, 3872 N. Highway 87 in Pine.

The schedule for the 2008-2009 season:

Aug. 2, Dennis Farrar calling; Aug. 16, Randy Dougherty calling

Sept. 6, Seth Levine; Sept. 20, Rick Gittelman

Oct. 4, Elmer Claycomb; Oct. 18, Dick Grisham

Nov. 1, Ron Raymond; Nov. 15, Bob Jones

Dec. 6, Randy Dougherty; Dec. 20, no dance

Jan. 3, Elmer Claycomb; Jan. 17, Seth Levine

Feb. 7, Stephen Cole; Feb. 21, no dance

March 7, Don Spurgin; March 21, Dick Grisham

April 4, Rick Gittelman; April 18, Allan Carpenter

May 2, Dennis Farrar; May 16, Jim Randall

The 2009 Rim Country Square and Round Dance Festival will be June 12 and June 13 and feature Mike Hogan calling the dancers and Annie Brownrigg cuing the round dances. The 30th anniversary of the festival will be June 11 and June 12 with Mike Seastrom, caller, and Barb Lopez, cuer. The festival planned for 2011 will be June 10 and June 11 with Joe Saltel, caller and Steve and Lori Harris, cuers.

To learn more about the Zane Grey Twirlers, their regular schedule of events and registering for upcoming festivals, visit the Web site www.zanegreytwirlers.org.

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