Jackson hosts National Square Dance Convention’s 70th anniversary

Published: Jun. 26, 2021 at 11:00 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 26, 2021 at 11:01 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - The world’s largest square dance event celebrated its 70th anniversary in Jackson this week.

Guests with the National Square Dance Convention danced all over town Saturday from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m., stopping at places like the Farmer’s Market, Highland Village, Fondren District, and the Jackson Zoo.

Jackson welcomed nearly 2,000 people from 46 different states between Wednesday, June 23, and Saturday, June 26.

President and CEO of Visit Jackson Rickey Thigpen said his team worked on the event for the last four years and estimated that it generated $2,000,000 for the city’s economy.

“Our sales department has really worked long and hard,” Thigpen said. “Our services division has really put in some extra benefits that have encouraged the group to choose Jackson, and we’re really excited to have them here.”

Despite a turnout of nearly 2,000 guests, the convention’s general chairperson, Glinda Torvik, said she hoped for twice that.

“This year, because of COVID, we did not get to have the people from Australia, Germany, Sweden, and Canada that were coming,” Torvik said. “They couldn’t come.”

Last year’s event was canceled because of the pandemic, but dancers, both young and old, say they couldn’t wait to get back out on the dance floor.

“This year has been tough, but we’re glad it’s over with, and we’re going to get back out there,” square dance participant Jim Duncan said.

“It feels really good to be able to see everybody and not have to wear a mask and be able to see all the pretty smiles when people are having fun dancing,” square dance participant Jordan Backstrom said.

Torvik said that sense of togetherness is what keeps people coming back year after year.

“You literally make friends all over the world,” she said. “You just get to come have a reunion every year.”

The annual event jumps from city to city based on a bid process that’s awarded four years in advance.

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