It started out as a themed tribute to the “oldies,” but the Sock Hop last week at the Marion County Fair turned into a rain dance and an opportunity for young and old to have fun.
“This is the first time I have ever seen people run out to dance in the rain,” said Brian Finch, owner of Finch on the Run Entertainment who provided music for the event. “That was so much fun. Actually, my whole trip to Hillsboro was so much fun because all the people I met were so friendly. It was so neat to see people of all ages having fun together. You don’t see that everywhere.”
Finch, from Bennett, NE, was a good find, according Sock Hop organizer and Goessel Goal Getters 4-H leader Laura Dailey.
“We weren’t sure we would be able to pull this off,” she said. “From the time the idea came out in our club to a week before the fair, so many things changed. It was perfect how it all turned out, but there were times I really wondered what would happen next.”
Dailey said finding an affordable DJ was just one difficulty she faced while making plans for something new at the fair.
“The local DJ’s just didn’t seem interested and had some very high prices by the hour,” she said. “I was really impressed by Finch’s quick response and willingness to do whatever we needed.”
In addition to providing music for the sock hop, Finch offered to provide service for the 4-H style review at no additional cost.
“It was a change from what we were used to, but it was awesome,” Dailey said. “He had the ability to instantly pull songs that matched the kids’ outfits, and his sound system was great.”
Lights, sound, and crowd participation contributed to the success of the Sock Hop that followed the style review.
“I just felt like this gave the kids a chance to interact in ways other than competition at the fair,” Dailey said. “It was just awesome to see them all there out on the dance floor having a good time. When the cold front came through and a few raindrops fell, then it was just perfect.”
When rain started falling, Finch played songs like “Thunder Rolls,” “I Love a Rainy Night,” and “Rain is a Good Thing,” and the crowd sang along.
Although in business for more than 10 years, Finch said this was the first county fair in Kansas he had worked.
“The kids here are just super awesome,” he said. “I even noticed “Aunt” Mary [Olson] dancing. What a unique and friendly place Hillsboro is. You folks should be proud of what you have here.”
Mary Olson, mayor of Marion, was crowned best- dressed dancer by event organizers.
“My niece, Morgan Gaines, called and asked if I was going to the hop skotch,” Olson said. “I figured out she meant Sock Hop and we even planned to wear our poodle skirts.”
It turned out that Olson had 10 nieces and nephews at the Sock Hop with her, thus the official designation as “Aunt” Mary.
“The whole thing was so much fun,” she said. “Way back when I was a member of the Summit Boosters, all we did was have dances like this, and even preformed for county club day competition.”
Olson sent a donation and thank-you card to Dailey after the event saying that it was great to see the club members from all over the county come together at the dance.
“This whole thing was a huge risk,” Dailey said. “But in the end, it paid off.”
Plans are in the works for a similar activity for the Marion County Fair next year.