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June 12, 2014

Swing your tractor: Rochester square-dancing tractor group gaining popularity

Rochester square-dancing tractor group gaining popularity

ROCHESTER — Lily Pearl’s Square Dancing Tractors has been finding success performing dosey does and swing-your-partner routines for fairs and other events for about the last three years.

Their dance floors are fields and arenas across the region, where they maneuver their fleet of red Farmall International Harvestor tractors in synchronized routines for the crowds that come out to see them.

Skeeter Daugherty, leader of the group, said their name pays homage to his wife’s late grandmother, who “got a kick out of watching” him and his friends at Fulton County Historical Power Association shows.

There are about 15 to 16 in the group, Daugherty said, adding that it takes nine to perform in a show — eight tractor operators and a caller to announce the move changes. Because women have yet to join, four guys amuse the audience by adopting attire and wigs to take on the appearance of women for each show.

Much of it came to be because of the curiosity and creativity of 10-year-old Dryden Vance, a member of the Fulton County Historical Power Association who Daugherty calls the group’s choreographer. Three years ago, when the group was just starting, Dryden had struck up a friendship with the late Dick Lewis, a friend of his grandparents. When Lewis passed away, his children gave a video featuring tractor square dancing to Dryden, who showed it to his peers in the power association.

“I decided to ask a few of the guys there if they’d try it,” Dryden said. “After they tired it and practiced, we got a whole group of guys together and said why don’t we just try this at our local power show. If people like it, maybe we should go public.”

They did, and they’ve been gaining popularity ever since. The group is performing in more than 25 events this summer, including the Fulton County Historical Power Show, Fulton County Fair, Cass County Fair and Indiana State Fair.

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