Square Dance Festival Ends 30-Year Run

Zane Grey Twirlers calling it quits

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When the dancers make their last bow to one another at the end of the 30th Annual Zane Grey Twirlers’ Dance Under the Rim June 12, it truly will be the last.

The venerable club is disbanding at the end of the year and this weekend’s festival is the last it will have.

“Our membership has declined and many of our members are having health problems and can no longer dance,” wrote Elisabeth Burke, festival chairperson in the event program.

“Any money that is left in our treasury will be donated to Payson local charities,” Burke concluded.

Former Town Councilor Hoby Herron is credited with starting the Zane Grey Twirlers and its annual square and round dance festival, Dance Under the Rim. It has drawn large crowds of dancers to the community for a weekend of dance, music, learning, food and fun.

Over the years, some of the most popular callers have participated in the event. This year’s square dance caller, Mike Seastrom, is the best in the country, according to Duane Coyer, president of the Zane Grey Twirlers.

Seastrom has been calling since 1963 and has been a member of CALLERLAB since 1977. He has authored articles for CALLERLAB Viewpoint and Square Dancing Today. He advocates for the multi-cycle method of teaching and records for Rhythm Records.

Over the years he has called for dancers throughout the U.S. and Canada, as well as Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Germany, Costa Rica, New Zealand, Australia and Japan.

Seastrom is a practicing dentist with an avocation for calling. His home base is in Tarzana, Calif.

Cueing the round dances at the festival will be Ernie and Barb Lopez. Barb started square dancing in 1972 in Zion, Ill. and moved into round dancing in 1980 in Germany. She began her cueing career in 1982, primarily for local military-attached dance clubs and has taught levels one through four for 26 years.

Barb and Ernie married in 1985 and returned to the United States in 1990, settling in Prescott.

The couple’s landscape maintenance business has curtailed some of their traveling in more recent years.

Festival schedule

The 30th Annual Zane Grey Twirlers’ Dance Under the Rim is Friday, June 11 and Saturday, June 12 at the Tonto Apache Recreation Center, south of the Mazatzal Hotel & Casino.

Friday the activities start at 7 p.m. with pre-rounds by the Lopezes, with square dancing following at 8 p.m., with Seastrom.

Dancers start the day Saturday with a pancake breakfast at 8 a.m. and a welcome dance with guest callers and cuers.

Lessons get under way at 11 a.m. with 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.

The Saturday evening events start with pre-rounds at 7 p.m., followed by the Grand March at 7:45 p.m. Bob Jones will sing the national anthem and Payson Mayor Kenny Evans will give a welcoming address.

The final square dance will start at 8 p.m.

Rim Country residents and visitors are invited to watch the Saturday night festivities free of charge.

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