The Wild Country Dancers are going for big.
After back-to-back blue-ribbon sweeps at the Pennsylvania Farm Show the past two years, the Wild Country Dancers have upped the ante and will field three sets of dancers at this year’s competition set for today at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex & Expo Center.
“We had that many more kids who wanted to come out and be a part of it,” group leader Brenda Schmidt said. “It really is a lot of fun and our existing kids are encouraging their friends and other kids to come out and get involved.”
A year ago, the Wild Country Dancers earned top honors for the third year in a row in the square dance exhibition/competition at the annual farm show in Harrisburg and had both sets of dancers earn blue ribbons for the second consecutive year. Liz Foust, a three-year member of the Wild Country Dancers, is hopeful for continued success.
“We’re looking forward to going out and competing and hopefully getting another blue ribbon,” said Foust, a 13-year-old Conneaut Lake resident. “We’re hopefully going to do the best that we can.”
Foust is one of a handful of Wild Country Dance members who will be multi-tasking at the farm show. Not only will Foust be looking to earn another blue ribbon in square dancing, she is looking to earn her first farm show ribbon showing her market hog.
But Foust admits, square dancing is a bit more of a challenge.
“It’s actually really different,” she said. “With the pig you are showing by yourself. It’s just you and the pig. With square dancing you are showing with an entire team of people. You have to have everyone doing the same thing.”
Schmidt said many of the members of the Wild Country Dancers became interested in square dancing while showing animals at the farm show.
“That’s kind of how it started,” Schmidt said. “They figured, ‘We’re here. Might as well do something else.’”
But for Foust, it was the opposite.
“I figured, we’re all ready down here. We show pigs anyhow. Might as well bring one down,” she said.
Nolan Schmidt, a three-year team member; second-year member Kierstin Kiel, just 8 years old; and first-year members Mikayla Donnell and Genna Keller are also seeking multiple ribbons at the farm show. Schmidt is showing beef cattle; Kiel, a market hog; Keller, a pig; and Donnell, a lamb.
“The rest are coming down to enjoy all of nice activities and to compete as a group,” Brenda Schmidt said. “They’ve been working so long from the end of October to now. We’re very much looking forward to it.”
This year’s Wild Country Dancers met for the first time in September and have practiced every Sunday in November and December and three times a week during the week of Christmas at Wild Country Dance Hall in Saegertown in preparation for the big show.
A total of 28 team members — including 13 new dancers, ranging from 8 to 22 years old and residing in Crawford or Erie counties — will compete for the Wild Country Dancers in Division C, the open age group.
The square dance competition is Monday at the large arena at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex & Expo Center. The dance parade begins at 6:30 p.m. Competition begins at 7 p.m. and will be broadcast on the Pennsylvania Cable Network (Channel 31 on Armstrong).
The Wild Country Dancers have three sets of dancers.
Competing in Set 29 are Gary Lee Shidemantle, Dalton Marsteller, Alec Rogan, Brittany Barr, Justin Schmidt, Marci White, Becca Rendulic, Madie Duffy, Alexandra Merritt and Riley Steiner.
Josh Schmidt, Kenny Shugerts, Nathan Walczak, Nolan Schmidt, Brooke Caldwell, Emily Merritt, Aubrey Spellman and Sarah Watson will compete in Set 30.
Eli Buhl, Cooper Howard, Caleb Howard, Sam Shelenberger, Morgan Donnell, Genna Keller, Mikayla Donnell, Kierstin Kiel, Rachel White and Foust make up Set 31.
The girls will wear “confetti-dot” skirts in all three sets with each set donning a different color.
The girls in Set 29 will wear red skirts, while the boys will wear black T-shirts with the International Harvester logo and red suspenders.
Aqua is the choice of color for Set 30. The boys will wear coordinating plaid shirts with black suspenders.
The girls in Set 31 will wear green skirts to coordinate with a John Deere theme.
The Wild Country Dancers will dance to “San Antonio Stroll” and “Love You So Much” for warm-ups. In competition, they will dance to “Gonna Have a Party,” “That’s My Story,” and “Heart of My Heart.”
The Danish system of judging will be used, meaning each team starts with a perfect score and points are deducted for each mistake observed by the three judges. Blue ribbons are given for superior performance, red for excellent and white for a good performance.
Lisa Byers can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can go
The 98th annual Pennsylvania Farm Show runs through Saturday at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex & Expo Center in Harrisburg. The show is billed as the largest indoor agricultural expo in the country featuring nearly 6,000 animals, 10,000 competitive exhibits and 300 commercial exhibits. Admission is free. Parking is $10. For a complete schedule, visit farmshow.state.pa.us.