By Kathleen Gest, Local columnist
---- — A hoedown has its roots in America's rural past. Originating as a type of barn dance, a hoedown normally involved country and bluegrass music and was influenced by early Scottish and Irish heritage.
Today, hoedowns can be held anywhere. So, dust off your cowboy hat and polish up your boots for an old-fashioned country hoedown to the music of Country Rhythm. The hoedown is presented by The Senior Center Network, partnered by PEACE Ranch, from 7 to 11 p.m. Friday, Sept. 7 at Twin Lakes Lodge in Long Lake Township.
Initiated in 2007 by Jacquelyn Kaschel and her husband Paul, PEACE Ranch stands for "professional equine assisted counseling and education."
"The purpose of the PEACE Ranch is to provide a space for the parallel process of rescue, rehabilitation and restoration for both horses and humans," Kaschel said.
PEACE Ranch takes rescue horses and rehabilitates them. Once the horses are rehabilitated and restored, they have the opportunity to give back to the ranch and are used in therapy programs for humans.
The therapy programs are designed for people who are stumbling in their lives for one reason or another and in need of rescue themselves. Using horses in the therapy sessions provides a pleasant context for working out issues.
"We are going to have some of our volunteers at the hoedown, along with one of our horses. We will be there to talk about PEACE Ranch," Kaschel said. "One of the neat things about PEACE Ranch is that it is a multigenerational opportunity for people to be involved."
PEACE Ranch is a community organization, using volunteers at all levels — from the board of directors to all of the work done on the farm. It is an all inclusive community effort.
The hoedown will also have two different dance presentations: square and line dancing. Rosie Brown will call two square dances every hour and Jacquie Gwyn will give a demonstration and then instruct participants on how to line dance.
Brown says square dances are for socializing and a good time.
"I usually walk people through a dance before we do actually do it," Brown said. "Mostly it is just listening to what the caller is telling you to do. I've asked Ruby John from Northport to play the fiddle during the square dances."
The square dance is uniquely American. Square dancing has been our "official national folk dance" since President Reagan signed an act of Congress in 1982. Square dance enthusiasts say, "Square dancing is friendship set to music."
"Line dancing was considered western or country, but now we are dancing to pop music also — to current songs like Pontoon," Gwyn said. "At the hoedown we will keep mostly to country music, except for a few demo dances in pop culture. The line dances that I teach (at the hoedown) will be very, very simple."
Gwyn, who also teaches line dancing for the Senior Center Network at various locations, will be teaching three line dances during the event.
"You can't dance and not feel good," Gwyn said.
Some of you may remember going to the local grange for Saturday night dancing. The hoedown will bring back those long-ago memories. So, if you want to enjoy an evening out with your friends, try your hand at line dancing or square dancing and listen to good old country music. If you are not a dancer, learn about PEACE Ranch, have refreshments and win door prizes; the Friday night hoedown at Twin Lakes Lodge will give you the perfect opportunity.
It's a community event — all ages and non-members are welcome. Tickets are $5 and must be purchased before Wednesday, Sept. 5 at the Senior Center Network locations or through Brown and Gwyn. For more information call the Senior Center Network at 922-4911 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Kathleen Bellaw Gest is a local freelance writer. For more about the Traverse City Senior Center, go to www.tcseniorcenter.com.