Garfield Dance Hall: Visited August 11 and September 1, 2019

Garfield Dance hall is at 9698 Garfield Road in Garfield. We were in the area and called the store number associated with the hall to see if we might get inside and dance. We were given two other numbers to contact for renting. Since we didn’t want to rent the building, we decided just to drive out and see what the building looked like. Erik McCowan had told us it was a great floor and we wanted to see for ourselves.

The sign out front let us know there was an upcoming event and we came back to dance on this fabulous floor.

At our August visit the grass had been recently mowed but not edged around the building, so we were careful getting up to the building. We didn’t want to disturb any critters in the grass. There were multitudes of grasshoppers at the time and several rather large spiders. What we noticed though, were the bird nests caught in the screens around the roof line and the eight (dead) snakes in the screening. We started singing green snakes in the ceiling by Johnny Bush. We found out at the sausage fest in September the snakes were not real, but placed there to discourage birds from nesting. They fooled us!

The shooting club was established March 19, 1893.

Outside the building is a covered area with benches. These benches filled fast at the sausage fest. For $10 we had a meal of sausage, cabbage casserole, beans and coleslaw. On the tables were bowls of pickles, peaches, and loaves of bread. Desserts: German chocolate cake, yellow cake with chocolate frosting, rice pudding (Yum!), chocolate cherry cake, lemon poppy seed cake and more were part of the meal and a very kind lady walked around with cups and a pitcher of tea for those who preferred something other than cold water. As we ate, servers would ask if we would like more sausage, a dessert or take our plates. If you couldn’t stay, they had plates to go for $10.

Before the meal

According to Texas State Historical Association: ” The town was named for President James A. Garfield. J. G. Guenther taught the first school there in 1891, and the next year the Garfield Gun Club was started and a dance hall was built. A store was opened there in 1918, but by 1940 no community center was reported. The 1983 county highway map showed one business at Garfield. In 2000 the population was sixteen. ”

Information from page 35 of Stephen Dean’s book, Historic Dance Halls of East Central Texas said the hall was built in 1910. “The popular annual sausage festival and other yearly events are still held in the beautiful antique hall, which has undergone little or no remodeling, keeping its architectural integrity intact.”

Mr. Zimmerman and Conrad (right)

Garfield dance hall has a Facebook page if you want a contact or find out when a dance is scheduled. We had a great time at the September feast. Texas Cowboy band played, Mr. Zimmerman was lead singer. We sat next to Conrad, the bass player and singer at lunch. He recommended I get another book on dance halls by his friend, Geronimo Trevino.

Conrad, Ricky Bob (the drummer) and Zimmerman have been playing at Garfield together for about 25 years. Conrad has another band, The Mesquite Ramblers. If you get a chance to hear either one of these bands, GO! You’ll have a great time dancing to their music.

The Garfield Shooting club sign over the front door.

We had a great time watching the other dancers. This is a family hall, and there were lots of children dancing and running around on the floor, or outside throwing a football around.

We talked to some of the others at the table around the dance floor. One of the lady’s said her grandmother went here when it was a school and this was the gym. She pointed out the swing still up in the rafters they used then.

One family did a great polka. I was told later it was called a Heel, Toe Polka. We were so impressed! I wasn’t able to post the video clip here, but did get it onto our (new) Facebook page.

The windows and structure of the building kept air circulating. The windows in the roof are operated by rope.

Window covers double as walls when the hall is not in use. Ticket windows were on either side of the front door.

We had a very enjoyable day at Garfield. Make plans to attend the April sausage fest and see this hall for yourself! Hope to see you on a dance floor soon.

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