It’s hip to be square: Tractor dancing at the Pa. Farm Show


(Scroll down for Farm and Dairy’s photos from the tractor square dance, as well as our video.)

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Square dancers from across the state put on their dancing shoes for an exhibition in the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex Large Arena Jan. 13, but their shoes were tires and they were on foot — they were on tractors.

The Middle Creek Tractor Swingers and the Roof Garden Tractor Buddies, two tractor square dancing groups, presented joint exhibitions for the Farm Show crowds.

Using authentic square dance calls and a caller, the teams performed complex maneuvers. As the teams’ male participants outnumber females, some men wore bonnets and skirts to be “female” partners.

Nimble tractors

The club members enjoy “showing people these old tractors are highly maneuverable,” said Middle Creek Tractor Swingers club member Dr. John Malcolm of Sunbury, Northumberland County.

“Some of these tractors are 70 years old,” added George Frymoyer of Mount Pleasant Mills, Snyder County.

All are narrow-front, tricycle-configured tractors, which can maneuver through tight turns with the ability to lock one wheel’s brake and rotate around that wheel.

The Middle Creek Tractor Swingers group formed in 2005 with 18 members, 14 of those being drivers. The organization practices almost every rain-free weekend to create new dances for their 12 performances held at fairs and festivals throughout the season.

The club performs moves like the “daisy Jane,” “tea cup chain” and “star promenade.”

Story Continues Below Photos and Video

Somerset Co. group

The Roof Garden Tractor Buddies had their first performance in 2003 and have been revvin’ up their engines to entertain around the state ever since.

With 15 drivers and 30 club members, the organization does about seven shows a year. This Somerset County-based club can be seen practicing Wednesday nights at the John Zehner Farm.

Three generations in the group, grandfather Harry Rhoads, son Tim Rhoads and grandson Brandon Rhoads of Berlin, Somerset County, were driving at the Farm Show, performing in front of what fellow driver Dan Parks of Stoystown, described as the “biggest crowd the group has ever performed for.”

The Roof Garden Tractor Buddies started in the eastern-style, or partner-type square dancing. The caller then moved into the western and more modern style of square dancing where each couple is involved. The drivers performed moves such as the “tea cup carousel” and the “star.”


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