Somerset County 4-H swing dances way to state farm show

| Saturday, Jan. 12, 2013, 10:23 p.m.

The members of the Somerset County 4-H recently represented the American tradition of square dancing at the 20th Pennsylvania State Farm Show in Harrisburg.

Many of the dancers became involved in square dancing for the fun of it.

Brandon Lee, a nine-year member of the Somerset County 4-H, said, “I first thought of square dancing as an excuse to miss a day of school. Now, I love square dancing.”

Kate Barron, 13, started square dancing because of her neighbors.

“My neighbors were involved in square dancing,” she said. “I saw how much fun they were having, so I tried it, and I enjoy it.”

Dave Mahler has been involved with the 4-H since he was 8. Now, his four children participate in the 4-H as well. Mahler believes that the 4-H helps foster a sense of community; however, he also cautions against competitiveness.

“We are about community.” he said. “Sometimes, people make a competition out of showing their animals.” He believes that the 4-H helps foster leadership ability amongst its members.

Sandy Baer, who is celebrating her 41st year with the 4-H, says that the 4-H helps promote family.

“The 4-H promotes teamwork at our events, including the County Fair and the State Farm Show,” Bair said. “It's good for the families. It's good for the kids.”

Jackie Coughenour, also a 4-H leader, says that the 4-H offers a variety of activities, ranging from traditional farming activities to robotics.

Her daughter, Kaitlyn, is a leader of the White Oak 4-H Club , who led a group of 27 square dancers from Somerset County to participate in the Farm Show. The group included her brother, Bradley.

Jackie Coughenour encourages young people to explore 4-H activities and find out which ones they enjoy the most.

For more information about the Somerset County 4-H and other groups, contact the Somerset County Penn State Agricultural Extension at 814-445-8911, ext. 7.

Barbara Starn is a freelance writer.

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