The magical island of hoedowns, turtles, and (usually) rain!

Fancy Free Cloggers at Hoedown Island

Fancy Free Cloggers at Hoedown Island

Last Saturday was my clogging team's annual trek to Natural Bridge State Park in Slade, KY. This park is home to Hoedown Island, billed in the park brochure as the "clogging capitol of Kentucky."

Hoedown Island (actually a peninsula) is host to dancing every Saturday night during the season. Various clogging teams take a turn as featured performers for the evening, which generally entails dancing two sets of a few songs each. Sometimes there is a singer, too. The rest of the night is filled with fun dancing. Don't know a dance (or how to dance at all)? Who cares?! Get out there and try it!

Saturday's dances are hosted by Jane Bolin, and I highly recommend you contact her to volunteer your team for a weekend next year if you live anywhere within a reasonable distance of this place! Seriously, it is a 3-hour drive for me, and I consider it totally worth it!

Tips for maximizing your Hoedown Island experience:

1. Make a day (or a whole weekend) of it!

One of our clogging families (thank you, Fields family) hosted a cookout a few years ago, and a team cookout at the park is now a tradition.

FFC after our first annual cookout at Hoedown Island

FFC after our first annual cookout at Hoedown Island

2. Forget texting. Your cell phone will only work as a camera here!

You will get maybe one fleeting bar if you stand in exactly the right spot. Otherwise, your phone will say "no service" until you get a ways down the road. (Check what your first couple turns will be on the trip home, because gps won't work, either.)

A few teens from my team tried REALLY hard to get cell signal at our cookout, but I don't believe they achieved anything beyond entertaining the adults.

Desperately seeking cell phone reception

Desperately seeking cell phone reception

3. Ride the skylift!

The view is worth the cost of a ticket!

(Maybe don't get on the skylift when it is about to rain. This happened to some teammates one year and they got drenched in the middle of their ride.)

Don't try this at home, kids

Don't try this at home, kids

Suzi and me riding up, up, up

Suzi and me riding up, up, up

4. Take a hike!

Walk on the natural bridge and follow a trail below to see what you just crossed. Beautiful!

On top of Natural Bridge

On top of Natural Bridge

Tight squeeze

Tight squeeze

5. Relax!

In case you have forgotten how to do this, please allow a couple of my clogging teammates to demonstrate:

Jim & Erica at the cookout

Jim & Erica at the cookout

6. Dance!

The evening hoedowns are great! If you don't know a routine, get behind a regular and follow along or just call it a freestyle! The host provides instruction for some dances, such as Virginia Reel, and she breaks out well-known songs like Chicken Dance and Electric Slide.

Jim & Evie take the floor to perform a duet

Jim & Evie take the floor to perform a duet

Cheering for fellow dancers

Cheering for fellow dancers

Freestyle time

Freestyle time

7. Be prepared for rain!

The weather was wonderful for our evening at Natural Bridge, which is unusual, ha-ha. It seems to rain during most of our visits. One year, our performance and the whole event got cut short due to lightning!

Dancing in the rain

Dancing in the rain

This was from the year the skies opened up during our performance. The audience scrambled for shelter, but we finished the routine!

8. Go easy on the gas pedal!

Because 25 mph is just a tad too fast

Because 25 mph is just a tad too fast

The speed limit signs make me chuckle every time!

9. BABY TURTLES!

Freshly-hatched turtles

Freshly-hatched turtles

My team director heard a rustle in the gravel at her feet, and it turned out to be baby turtles emerging from under the rock! We watched about a dozen turtles enter the world and make their way to the water.

10. Come back next year!

After a fun night of dancing, the long drive back, and dropping off passengers, I made it home around 2:00 am. Already looking forward to loading up the car and heading to Kentucky next August! Thanks, Jane!

Let's go to Natural Bridge State Park

Let's go to Natural Bridge State Park

Does your team dance at any similar places? Share in the comments!

(Photos in this post by several members of my clogging family including Dustin Williams, Evie Poe, Chassidy Wills, Susan Ross, Carrie Moore, Kim Fields, Erica Haning. Thank you!)