It’ll be hip to be square when the 42nd annual CALLERLAB Convention is in Springfield March 30-April 1.
The International Association of Square Dance Callers convention will provide educational opportunities for anyone - from novice to expert - with an interest in square dance calling. CALLERLAB is an organization of square dance callers with over 1,500 members from Europe, Asia, Australia, Canada and the USA.
About 235 people from around the world will be in the city for the event that takes place at University Plaza Hotel & Convention Center, including Jon Jones of Arlington, Texas, who has attended every CALLERLAB convention since the first one in 1974.
“I just really enjoy going,” said Jon Jones, 79, who has called square dances in 24 countries and will be on a panel of “legends” speaking at the convention. “It’s kind of like a family reunion. It’s also educational for us callers.”
Calling is definitely a family affair in the Jones family. Not only is he involved in the organization, his wife, Deborah Carroll-Jones, and son, Vernon Jones, are also expert callers and board members for the association. The couple, in fact, met at a convention in 1985 and had their first date in 2000 at a convention in Las Vegas.
Dana Schirmer, executive director of the organization based in Topeka, Kansas, said the convention is for networking and to provide education. For callers, the cost is $210 and for those who are not callers, cost is $200. The fees include meals and beverage breaks.
“Our goal here is to do more education of what square dancing calling is and keep our members well informed, provide educational materials and be able to share with others,” Schirmer said.
Schirmer, who visited the city a few years ago during a familiarization tour hosted by the Convention & Visitors Bureau, said Springfield was selected for the event in part because of its proximity to Branson and because of its transportation options.
“The Springfield airport was a drawing card for getting people to fly in, especially the international callers,” Schirmer said.
The convention kicks off with a square dance at 8 p.m. Sunday at University Plaza. Non dancers are invited to watch and dancers are welcome to participate. The event is free with donations accepted.
The organization also is accepting donations of items for its auction that raises funds for its foundation dedicated to the promotion and preservation of square dancing.
For more information or to register for the convention, call Schirmer at 785-554-7221. Learn more about CALLERLAB and the International Association of Square Dance Callers at www.CALLERLAB.org.
For more information about conventions and events brought to Springfield by the Convention & Visitors Bureau, call 417-881-5300 or visit www.SpringfieldMO.org. The CVB is a nonprofit organization dedicated to boosting the local economy through growth in travel and tourism.
The CVB estimates convention attendees spend about $150 per person per day.