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For the week of May 24 through May 30, 2000

Idaho High Country Swingers twist and twirl in preparation for Saturday’s Barn Dance in Picabo. They are, from left, Orville Drexler, Barbara Kline, Robin Tomasi and Randy Roberts. Photo by Aubrey Stephens

Dance—and yodel—your blues away at Susie Q

The Picabo ranch gets wild and Western for annual Barn Dance

Express Staff Writer

In a few weeks, the nation’s eminent scholars of the American West will gather in Sun Valley for the Western Issues Conference to contemplate the West, its past, present and future. Note to these scholars: get to Picabo Saturday night for the 15th annual Barn Dance.

In fact, anyone with a fondness for the West should make the trip to the Susie Q Ranch on Highway 20 at Mile Marker 191 in Picabo for the dance, which this year features Rounder Records recording artist Wylie and the Wild West.

The Barn Dance is presented annually by the Idaho High Country Swingers, a local dance group that offers country western dance classes and events year round.

"Our mission is to have fun," said Idaho High Country Swinger Barbara Kline. "We like the music and we love to dance."

A massive horse arena on the Susie Q Ranch, owned by Pat Millington, converts to a 3,000-square-foot dance floor for the dance. Dancers cover just about every move in country western dance, including the two-step, the waltz, the polka, the cha-cha and one that is unique to the Idaho High Country Swingers: the pony.

"When the West was being settled, barn dances were a way for families to gather to celebrate a good harvest or a wedding," said Kline. "In this case, it’s because it’s spring."

It will be easy for anyone to hit the dance floor, thanks to the infectious music of Wylie and the Wild West.

"Wylie can really cut loose," Kline said. "He is an entertainer, not just a dance band."

Kline and other members of the Idaho High Country Swingers heard Wylie and Wild West perform at the recent Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nev., and quickly rounded the band up for their Barn Dance.

Wylie Gustafson is genuine cowboy material. He grew up on a 10,000-acre Montana cattle ranch. His father, a rancher, livestock veterinarian and author, turned young Wylie on to country western music. Today, Wylie runs a ranch of his own in Washington State when he is not on tour.

"When I write an upbeat song, I make sure it’s a song cowboys can dance to," Gustafson said in a press release from Rounder Records.

Wylie and the Wild West’s records with the prestigious Rounder label include "Ridin’ the Hi-Line," "Total Yodel" and "Way Out West." He also lent his signature cowboy yodel to the television and radio commercials.

Tickets, at $12 for general admission and $8 for seniors and students, are available at Silverado Western Wear in Ketchum, Read All About it in Hailey, The Sawtooth Animal Center tack store in Bellevue and at the Loading Chute Saloon in Carey.

There will be no refreshments or food provided but barn dancers are invited to bring their own. Lawn chairs, blankets and coolers are allowed. No glass is permitted on the ranch.

The Barn dance runs from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m.


If you want to make it a day of exploring the Wild West, check out the Women of the West horse sale, which runs all day Saturday on Katie Breckenridge’s B-Bar-B ranch in Picabo.

Cowgirls from across the West show and sell horses at the event. Breckenridge started the horse sale four years ago to celebrate the important role that women have played in the development of the West.


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