Less than a year ago now, retired teacher, musician and event organizer Yvonne McMillan started bringing social opportunities to the Philomath community through monthly country dances and bluegrass jams. She even put on a celebration for the Oregon-born Talk Like a Pirate Day.
Those regular monthly events, which take place at Marys River Grange Hall, will pause for the summer with plans to resume in September. But for those with a hankering to kick up their heels — or perhaps cowboy and cowgirl boots would be more fitting — McMillan has organized a Country Western Dance this Thursday at Skirvin Park’s Philomath Frolic & Rodeo grounds.
The event, which will serve as a fundraiser, begins at 7 p.m. with an admission fee of $10 for adults, $7 under age 18.
“All of this money is being raised for the pirate event and if there’s any extra money, it goes to the grange,” McMillan said.
The fundraiser got off to a good start with the Philomath Frolic & Rodeo offering use of the Yew Wood Corral at the rodeo grounds free of charge. This year’s Talk Like a Pirate celebration is scheduled for Sept. 15 at Grange Hall.
“It’s on a Friday this time,” McMillan said. “We had 50 people come (last year) on a Monday night, so I thought that was pretty good.”
At this week’s June 22 dance, folks can expect to start out with instruction on at least three dances. For those with no country dancing experience, it’s an opportunity to learn some new moves. And for those with experience, perhaps it’s a time to brush up on those established skills.
“Very close to the beginning is when he’ll teach a dance … he’ll teach at least three new dances and then it probably depends on the crowd,” McMillan said. “If experienced dancers show up … he might cater more toward them but for sure, there will be three new dances taught.”
For those with the desire to hear a specific song, McMillan said there will be a sign-up list on which folks can make a request.
Deejay Hunter Mole’ will provide music for the dance, which is scheduled to run for three hours until 10 p.m. Nick’s: Soul Food will have its food truck on site to provide concessions.
McMillan said she’s seen success with the monthly country dance and bluegrass jam events at the grange. She mentioned that an average of about 25 people have been showing up for the bluegrass jams and 20 to 50 people have attended the country dances.
“There’s only been two dances that were on the low side — maybe 20 or something,” she said. “But the average for that has been 40 to 45 people.”
In addition to resuming in September the monthly dance and jam events along with the second Talk Like a Pirate celebration, McMillan is also organizing a Christmas singalong to take place Dec. 2.