The International Folk Dancers of Richland are breaking in their clogs and other cultural attire at the 55th annual Richland Folk Dance Festival from Oct. 2-4 at the Richland Community Center and Kennewick First Methodist Church.
"You name it, we do it. I think we know dances from every continent except Australia," said Pauli Budd, president of the group. "Folk dancing is just what it is -- people have been dancing for centuries, probably ever since they could walk."
Traditional folk dancing is slowly becoming a dying art, especially among the younger generations, said Barb Puigh, the club's publicity chairwoman.
"People go to those countries and they're really trying to keep those things alive because the young people in those villages would rather listen to Western music than what their parents want to pass down," she said.
The group performs folk dances from the Philippines, Japan, South America, Europe, and more.
"We're just what the name of our group says: International. And we really are," Budd said.
This year the group is focusing on Romanian and Serbian dances and bringing in Cathy Dark, an Oregon State University instructor. Dark teaches cultural world dance and dance anthropology and frequently travels to Romania. Dark is also one of the authors of Dance A While, an introduction to dance.
"We just would encourage people to come and watch, or if they want to participate to learn any of the dances," Budd said. "If they're at all interested in other cultures and other parts of the world, the way people dance, the way people live, Saturday night is very colorful and fun to watch because people wear costumes from many different countries."
A free Get Acquainted Party is Oct. 2 from 7:30 to 10 p.m. at the Richland Community Center, 500 Amon Park Drive. Visitors can get to know the instructor and participate in some dancing and socializing.
From 10 a.m. to noon and 1:30 to 4 p.m. Oct. 3, Dark will be offering lessons on several dances. Cost is $35 for adults, $20 for students.
"There will be a cultural hour at noon (Oct. 3) where our instructor will give us information about the country and people," Budd said. "It's always interesting and sometimes they're accompanied with slides and videos."
Another free social/dance is from 8 to 11 p.m. Oct. 3 at Kennewick First Methodist Church, 2 S. Dayton St. From 11 p.m. to 2 a.m., there will be an after-party, where members bring food and snacks. Cost for the after party is $7 for adults, $3 for students.
From noon to 2 p.m. Oct. 4, visitors can review what they've learned at the Richland Community Center.
Puigh and her husband have been dancing for more than 25 years and Budd eagerly shared that several couples have met through folk dancing.
"There have been a number of instances in our club where people have met and gotten married," Budd said. "Our club is more than 50 years old. There are at least a couple of members who are still dancing since when the club was first formed."
People interested in joining the International Folk Dancers of Richland are encouraged to stop by their meetings Thursday nights from 7:30 to 8 p.m. at the Richland Community Center.
For more information, contact Gretchen Makinson at 590-943-1264 or via e-mail at email@example.com