Living & Eating on Long Island's East End 

                               Hallockville Hoedown

My name is Monique.
I'm a 2-time Emmy Award winning TV Producer.
Having been in the business for over 15 years I've produced my share of live tv cooking segments, but never had much time to devote to cooking myself.

Last year when I got married, I moved out of New York City to the east end of Long Island, to ...wait for it...The Hamptons.

Now before you roll your eyes, there's more to the Hamptons than mansions and celebrities.

The Hamptons have some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, miles of productive farmland, plus a rich clamming history that continues to this day.

When I moved out east and realized I was surrounded, not just by the bounty of the sea, but also local farms and vineyards, I couldn't wait to explore and sample my new environment.

That's what this blog is about.  Cooking, living, exploring and sharing those experiences.

You'll notice that my blog is a little of this and a little of that, kind of like a potluck meal.

I attended my first barn dance or "Hoedown" this summer at Hallockville Museum Farm in Riverhead.

Hallockville is a non-profit organization dedicated to educating and connecting the East End community to its agricultural heritage. Part of the museum includes a centuries old farmhouse, decorated and equipped as an 1800s era farmhouse would have looked. Other exhibits include historic barns, farming exhibits and real farm animals. 

Hallockville hosts a series of events all year including fairs and festivals like tractor pulls, the Fleece & Fiber Fest and their popular Fall Festival in September that showcases foods and traditions from earlier days like quilting, woodworking, basketweaving and milking.

Their annual summer barn dance raises funds for future programs and exhibits.

"Barn dances were a traditional event in rural communities to bring people together to socialize and celebrate," Beth Motschenbacher, Assistant Director of Hallockville explained. "Sometimes barn dances would be held for specific celebrations like weddings or other milestones." 

In sparsely populated areas, like the East End of Long Island was before the railroad came, barn dances were a way to gather the community together to socialize, according to Ms. Motschenbacher. 

"We like to continue that tradition and make it an annual event that people can do in the summertime," Ms. Motschenbacher said. "We get people from far and wide like Massapequa, Port Jefferson, Setauket and the South Fork." 

While most people are familiar with the 'barn dance', the correct term is 'contra dancing' in which a 'caller' calls dance moves and formations. Some of the songs performed are familiar to today's generation, but many are traditional folk tunes from centuries ago. 

The night of the dance is hot and humid. A thunderstorm has passed by earlier, but instead of cooling things off, it has left the air even steamier.

Hallockville's historic Naugles barn is packed with dancers, heating things up even more. Outside children chase each other about in the darkness, while adults sit outside on benches and enjoy the picnics they've brought with them.
Inside the barn, the caller leads the dancers through their steps. It's fun to watch them and this type of dancing is very inclusive in that you don't really need a partner, so no one is left out.

Everyone joins hands to form a large circle, then dances around the barn. A band made up of a fiddler, guitar and banjo performs inside, keeping everyone in step. 

It is a summer evening of small town celebration and socializing that transcends 2016. It could just as well be taking place in 1816 or 1916. Strange how the more things change, the more they seem to stay the same, sometimes.

July 2016
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