The Ulster County Historical Society (UCHS) has made it part of its mission to educate the community about the significance of local history in a way that makes it fun; it has developed a number of interactive events designed to bring history to life. This Saturday, October 13, the UCHS will collaborate with the Friends of the Old Dutch Church to hold a Traditional Country Dance from 2 to 5 p.m. at Bethany Hall in Kingston, located at the historic Old Dutch Church on Wall Street.
No special ability or attire is required to attend. “It’s not geared just for dancers; it’s for anyone,” says Suzanne Hauspurg, site coordinator for the Ulster County Historical Society. The event is about connecting to the old traditions of community dancing, as something that everyone used to do together as a social activity. “People will be learning dances and music handed down from generation to generation,” says Hauspurg.
Live music will be provided by Tamarack & Friends, with guest fiddler Will Welling and caller Paul Rosenberg teaching historical dances from all periods of American history. The dances will include easy-to-learn American barn-dance favorites like circles, squares and contras, and folk dances from around the world. The toe-tapping tunes will include reels, jigs, polkas, hornpipes and waltzes. Instruments in a family dance may include fiddle, banjo, mandolin, flute, pennywhistle, clarinet, guitar, piano, recorder, accordion, dulcimer or percussion.
Tickets cost $15 per person, which (thanks to a grant from the New York Council for the Humanities) will include a light buffet luncheon provided by local restaurants. The Friends of the Old Dutch Church will sell beer, wine and soft drinks, and children under age 10 will be admitted free.
The Old Dutch Church in Kingston was organized in 1659, and is the oldest continuously existing congregation in Ulster County, as well as being one of the oldest in the nation. Its current building (the fifth in its history) is an 1852 structure that was designated a National Historic Landmark in 2008. The church’s 225-foot steeple makes it the tallest building in Kingston, and its interior includes stained glass by Louis Comfort Tiffany’s company and an M. P. Moller pipe organ. The church grounds also include a small cemetery, with most of the burials predating its construction, providing the resting grounds for early American patriots and notable citizens like former governor and vice president George Clinton.
“It’s quite a remarkable place to be able to do the event,” says Hauspurg. It’s the first time the two groups have worked together, she says, but she hopes that this will be the first of many such events in the future.
The Traditional Country Dance will be held on Saturday, October 13 from 2 to 5 p.m. at Bethany Hall, located at the Old Dutch Church in Kingston at 272 Wall Street. The cost is $15, which includes a light luncheon buffet. Children under age 10 are admitted free. Beer, wine and soft drinks will be available for purchase. For more information, call the Ulster Country Historical Society at (845) 338-5614 or visit www.ulstercountyhs.org.