The Diamond Lake Square Dance Festival started as a campout and fish fry for the Star Promenaders square dance club. This event was held at the Diamond Lake campground near the lodge. The attendees became familiar faces around the lodge during these events. They became friendly with the owners of the lodge and began to discuss the possibility of combining a square dance with the annual event.
Finding an area large enough, and level enough to use for dancing without interfering too much with the commercial activities of the lodge was a priority. The parking lot near the boathouse was large enough and reasonably level. The concession owners agreed to allow the parking lot to be closed for a few days so the club could hold their dance.
Once a location was selected getting a floor to dance on became the priority. It soon became apparent that cost of materials for their project could be a prohibitive factor. By this time the group was determined. Medford was a fairly small town, at the time, so most of the businesses were locally owned. The group convinced many of these local business owners to buy advertising space on the, not yet constructed, floor to be used at the, still in the planning stages, square dance festival.
With the money raised from the advertising sales, and other donations, enough money was raised to construct sixteen, eight foot by eight foot, plywood panels. The panels were constructed, and the advertising painted on them, in the back yard of one of the dancers. With the location secured and the floor built it would seem that all the obstacles were behind them. NOT QUITE!
Transportation of the panels to Diamond Lake was not to be as simple as had been assumed. The group had planned to haul the panels in the back of pickup trucks. However, they soon encountered two problems with this plan.
Problem 1: The panels, once constructed were extremely heavywe
Problem 2: Eight foot by eight foot panels do not lend themselves well to being hauled in a pickup bed.
Because of the weight only a few panels could be hauled in the, mostly 1/2 ton pickups, available to the group. Because of their size the panels would have to be hauled standing on edge. The pickup idea was eventually abandoned and someone was able to borrow a flatbed truck. The panels were loaded and hauled to the lake.
All the problems seemed to have been overcome until the floor was assembled on site. It seems that, to save money on the cost of the plywood, what are known as mislays were purchased. This meant that the plywood was not all the same thickness. So when the panels were laid edge to edge there was often a lip that the dancers could trip on. To solve this problem, shims had to be placed under many of the panel edges to make a smooth transition from panel to panel. The job turned out to be very time consuming and took most of a day to complete, but at last it was time to square dance.
The dance that first year was not large but the crowd was enthusiastic and a good time was had by all in attendance. The dancers were so enthusiastic about the event that they talked about it for the entire next year. The excitement brought larger crowds the next year and the next. The crowds grew so large that the floor had to be expanded. As the years passed the crowds grew larger and so did the floor. Eventually the floor covered the entire parking lot and over 100 squares of dancers were attending the festival each year.
Though the crowds have been smaller, in recent years, the enthusiasm has remained high and it is still the most beautiful site in the world for a square dance.
The Star Promenaders are grateful to the owners of the Diamond Lake Lodge concession for the continued use of the parking lot for our festival.
You can visit the Star Promenaders here: www.starpromenaders.org
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