Square Dance Festival in Fontana

One of our staff members recently found A Calendar of and Guide to All the Fall and Winter Shindigs Going on in North Carolina (Fall/Winter 1975). Since I was born in 1975 (yes, I’m trying make some of you feel old!), I thought I would see what happened on this day in 1975.

September 14, 1975, was the first day of the Square Dance Festival in Fontana, North Carolina. Does anyone remember attending? Does this festival still occur?


The button above is from the Lew Powell Memorabilia Collection. It’s from 1976–rather than 1975–but it was too good not to include!

I also noticed that a short 13 days later the Poultry Jubilee began in Rose Hill.

6 thoughts on “Square Dance Festival in Fontana”

  1. A bit about why Fontana was once known as the “Square Dance Capital of the World”: (From a site devoted to “Texas Callers”)

    Al “Tex” Brownlee started calling in his home town, Jacksboro, Texas in 1948 for a new club called “Circle 60”. There were only 60 people in the club.

    He and Jean moved to Odessa, Texas in 1951 where he introduced the Western Style Square Dancing to the public. He organized several TV Shows to advertise and started several clubs.

    He began to travel and went full time pro in 1957. He was one of the callers on the first Texas State Convention held in Dallas in 1962. He called State Conventions in Arizona, Colorado, Nebraska, Hawaii, Alaska Minnesota, Michigan, Louisina, Texas and Florida.He
    traveled across the states some 46 times.

    In 1968 he took the appoint of Director at Fontana Dam, North Carolina. He and Jean developed it into the Square Dance Capital of the world. He retired there in 1988 after 20 years service.

    He has recorded on Dash, Lightning “S”, Thunderbird and Blue Star record labels.

  2. Tex Brownlee’s short obituary from last year:

    JACKSBORO – Albert R. “Tex” Brownlee, 88, of Dallas died Sunday, Jan. 20, 2008, in Jacksboro, TX.

    Services will be at 10 a.m. Wednesday at Coker Funeral Home with Gill Crouch officiating. Burial will be in Oakwood Cemetery.

    Mr. Brownlee was a professional square dance caller.

    Survivors include a son, Harry James Brownlee; one grandson; one granddaughter; two great-grandchildren all of Dallas; sister, Lennis Brandenburg; and brother, Avin Brownlee of Dumas.

  3. Not that any community would need distinction beyond possessing the World’s Largest Frying Pan, but Rose Hill also received (mostly unwelcome) literary attention in 1976.
    From a Newsweek review of “Rose Hill: A Documentary of Shared Experience”:
    “Reed Wolcott, delegate to the Democratic National Convention that nominated George McGovern, visited the small farming town… intending to take a brief sampling of local political and social attitudes. She stayed two years. When she left in 1974, she took away tape-recorded conversations with more than 90 of the town’s 1,700 residents — teachers, housewives, politicians, farmers, felons, bankers, old, young, black, white….
    “Rose Hill at first struck Wolcott as ‘a quiet town, a pretty town, the kind of town to conform to your most sentimental assumptions about America.’ And, indeed, the official town voices ratify this image with their talk of progress, order and harmony. But other voices, more strongly boiling with resentment at their powerlessness, are discouraged about the deteriorating state of their domestic lives, wistful about their vanished dreams and angry at leaders on every level. The voices of the dispossessed and even those of the powerful and prosperous sound a discouraging note about the quality of contemporary life. In the process, they contradict many of our most cherished fictions about the American small town.”

  4. After Kevin raised the question, I tried unsuccessfully to track down Reed Wolcott — thought I had found her address (NYC apt), but my query letter was returned.

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