IN THE 1930s, at the height of The Great Depression, a young Herb Becker attended dances in the sprawling red barn along Rice County Road 1 several miles west of Dundas.
Herb didn’t know it then, but in 1948 he and his wife Dorothy would buy the “Faber farm” site with the 36-foot by 100-foot barn.
Today his youngest son John and wife Debbie own the farm, purchased in 1988. Saturday they hosted their first-ever Harvest Time Barn Dance.
“It’s a dream come true,” John said several times through-out the event which brought the barn back full circle to his father Herb—who died in 2009—and those long-ago barn dances.
I bet Herb would have been pleased with the party that drew family, friends and neighbors of the Beckers together on a cool autumn evening to visit, eat and dance the night away in the old hay mow. My husband Randy and I were among our friends’ invited guests.
Everything about the celebration in this 1915 barn spoke to the kind of down-home neighborliness and love of family that define the Beckers and the Malechas (Debbie’s family). These are good, honest, hard-working people of faith with their roots planted deep in the earth. I doubt I stopped smiling all evening.
And there was plenty to smile about—from the country-style decorated barn complete with red-and-white checked tablecloths, zinnias/sedum/golden rod in fruit jars, pitchforks, bushel baskets, seed corn signage, wooden barrels, cream separator, horse harness and lots more to the kids and adults sporting cowboy hats, cowboy boots and other western attire to the welcoming, sometimes boot-stomping, music of The Revivals band.
It was the type of evening reminiscent of the old-fashioned gatherings of yesteryear, when adults could visit while the kids played with carefree abandon. And they did on Saturday. Tag and hide-and-seek. Pick-up football in the dusty farm yard. Make-believe, chasing each other with cap guns blazing.
Inside, the adults admired the architectural bones of the barn, cranking necks upward toward the skeletal rafters, toward the conveyor that once carried hay bales across this dairy barn hay mow. And before that, the hay fork, on display outside the barn. They imagined climbing the ladder on the east end of the barn, like daring trapeze artists, to a platform above.
And later, when The Revivals from New Prague rocked the rafters with music that spanned polkas and waltzes to country and 1950s-1970s hits, adults and kids alike slid their feet across the corn meal-slicked plywood covering the maple floor that was too unsalvageable for refinishing. They twirled and shook and twisted.
And they danced like Herb would have wanted them to dance, celebrating life.
CHECK BACK FOR MORE barn dance images. I won’t have photos of the dancing; once I had my band shot, I put away the camera.
HAVE YOU EVER attended a barn dance? If you haven’t, you might want to become friends with the Beckers. I bet they’ll have plenty of requests for a repeat harvest dance next fall. Thanks, John and Debbie, for an absolutely memorable and fun evening.
© Copyright 2011 Audrey Kletscher Helbling