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Bear Hug Mountain Festival 2017
Contra Dance & Music Camp
September 8-10
Flathead Lake, Rollins, Montana



Tony Parkes needs no introduction to experienced contra and traditional
square dancers. He took up calling more than 50 years ago—the first baby boomer to do so--splitting duties with the immortal Ted Sannella at the Boston Country Dance Society gatherings. He also helped organize the prestigious Concord Scout House dances during the 1970s, not to mention the legendary band Yankee Ingenuity. Tony has composed more than 90 square and contra dance routines, some of which have become modern classics. He has also written the standard text on calling, plus two collections of dance material. You’ve also likely heard his pulsating calling on several recordings. Moreover, Tony is a walking encyclopedia on the history of the dance.

Beth Parkes started calling square and contra dances in college in the 1970s, though she has been dancing since childhood. Originally from Ohio, she was well established as a dance leader in the Cleveland area by the time she moved to Boston in 1986. Over the past 30 years, Beth has called at hundreds of dance parties around New England. Beth’s repertoire of dances is vast, and covers every degree of difficulty

From the Right Coast, the rocket-fueled Sassafras Stomp travels to Montana from the hilly farmland of central Maine. Weaving together diverse fiddle traditions with a strong rhythmic sensibility, fiddler Johanna Davis and guitarist Adam Nordell build a rich, dynamic roots-sound marked by driving rhythms and sweet harmony vocals. The couple’s collaboration actually began in Montana before they relocated to Johanna’s home-state to start an organic farm. When they’re not pulling weeds, the Stomp is roaming up and down the East Coast playing at dances and festivals-- including the very first Catapult! Contradance Showcase in Atlanta, Georgia. Adam is also a first-rate songwriter and the couple has recorded a number of excellent cd’s.


Meanwhile, on the Left Coast, the Contra Quartet grew out of the collaboration between fiery fiddler Jesse Partridge and provoking guitarist Jay Finkelstein, both of whom have long crafted music uniquely suited to contra dancing in the Pacific Northwest. In 2012, they invited cellist Steve Cifka and percussionist Julie Bennett to join them, and the resulting chemistry and musical energy demanded
the formulation remain permanent. Steve uses his cello to create innovative rhythmic backups and harmonies and to add an exciting and visceral bass end to the music. Julie brings to the band a lifetime of experience as a drummer in many genres, and has a knack for finding ways to bring out the unique qualities of each tune with restraint, energy, and musical taste. Together, the band delivers a
sound rooted in traditional contra dance music, yet one that is innovative and daring. Jay is also a first-rate songwriter and performer.


Group of fiddlersLOCATION. Where does East meet West? In Montana, of
course—at the 2017 Bear Hug Mountain Music
and Dance Camp, to be precise. An exciting
weekend is in store for all when two of the hottest
“coast” bands, plus two distinguished New
England callers, converge on the shores of magnificent
Flathead Lake with the glorious Mission
Mountains as a backdrop. Moreover, each
band harbors a very talented songwriter—which
should make for a magnificent concert on Saturday

Woman on the dockFor outside activities, campers can swim, sun or paddle canoes from a sandy beach or deep water dock. The park-like wooded grounds of the peninsula offer many sanctuaries along the lake shore for self-reflection or quiet talks with old friends. For the more competitive at heart, there's basketball and volleyball courts, outdoor ping-pong tables and horseshoe pits.

Accommodations: You can choose bunks in more than a
dozen rustic cabins of various sizes, or set up a tent along
the shore beneath the pines, Other facilities include dining
hall and retreat center, restroom and shower facilities, dock,
swimming area, and canoes, basketball and volleyball courts,
ping pong pavilion, baseball diamond, tenting and RV space.

FOOD: The camp provides three meals on Saturday, and
breakfast and lunch on Sunday. Local Dancers provide a pot
luck dinner on Friday night from 6 to 8. The kitchen staff can
accommodate those with special dietary needs

Created June 1999.
Last modified
April 5, 2017

Gary Decker