The History Of Circle Eight
Much of the history of the
Circle Eight Square Dance Club has been compiled from the memories of the "oldtimers"
and much of it has been lost with the passing of time and the passing of
dancers. It is with pride we share these memories with all who believe in
family, fellowship and fun.
In the beginning, there were
several area clubs other than Circle Eight. "Shirts and Skirts" in Halstead,
"Buttons and Bows", "Do-Si-Do's", and "20th Century", all of Newton.
W. M. Okerberg was the first
caller of Circle Eight. He took lessons from "Pappy" Shaw in Colorado. It is
believed he started Circle Eight in 1946, on his return to Newton. Jack Cronk
soon joined him as a caller, followed by Erwin Stark, Tommy Gorden and Howard
Two couples, Hank and Madge
Phillips and Brad and Clara Conner share the honor of being the first members of
Circle Eight. Before joining Circle Eight, the Phillips danced with Shirts and
Skirts and the Conners danced with Buttons and Bows.
Without the help of today's
sophisticated amplifiers, the caller had to strain his voice to be heard over
the live band he worked with. Often the caller would join the dancers while he
called. The area square dancers were visited by their first National Caller in
1949. Though his name has been long forgotten, the man has not. He has been
described as "a Texan who wore a long-tailed coat and a high top hat."
The first League dance was
held in 1956 with Erwin Stark calling. Circle Eight is a Charter Member of the
League. On January 31, 1959 the first 5th Saturday dance (which became known as
Festival) was held in the Armory in Wichita. These dances were hosted by Newton,
Hutchinson and Wichita in turn. Hank and Madge Phillips were Vice-Presidents of
the League that year. Some early dances were held at the old Forum in Wichita.
The building was too small for everyone to dance at the same time, so each
couple was given a colored ribbon. The caller would call for red, and all those
with red ribbons danced that tip. The next tip would be a different color.
Circle Eight has danced at the
old YMCA, Lincoln School, the Episcopal Church, Bethel College, Cooper School,
the Newon Armory, Walton School, Methodist Youthville, Suncrest School and
Chisholm Middle School.
Circle Eight began lessons in
the 1950's with Don Burkholder calling. Lessons have been given in a variety of
places including the 4-H Building, the basement of the telephone company, the
Elks Club, the Newton Community Center, the Newton Senior Center and the Newton
Recreation Center. Lessons have been taught by callers and from tapes on
In 1976, it was agreed by all
that a permanent record of the club should be kept, giving the club its first
recorded records of officers, callers, activities and members. An anniversary
committee was formed in 1986 and a search of the club history began. There were
no membership lists prior to 1971. A 40th anniversary dance was held April 12,
Over the years, Circle Eight
has hosted a wide array of holiday dances with the New Year's Eve and the
Halloween dances proving to be the most popular with decorations, skits,
costumes and contests, but mostly, lots of fun for all.
Every member of Circle Eight
has special memories of dances, club campouts, banner chasing, laughter,
festivals, conventions, graduation, that first dance after graduation, parade
floats, street dances, new members becoming new friends, the sadness of old
members moving or passing on. But above all, every member shares the special
bond of a "square dance family."
Circle Eight holds out the
welcoming hand of friendship to guests and members alike, and we invite you to
visit us, make new friends, and join the square dance family that reaches around
Written by Fern
Rudiger - 1986
Revised by Toni Gough
Updated by Sandra
McVey - 2013