was November 13, 1954
The Location was the Pythian Center
The Caller was Bill Camp
Thus began the history of one
of the oldest Square Dance Festivals in the State of Florida . On
the program that first year were such numbers as "Take a Little Peek", "Birdy
in a Cage" and "Arkansas Traveler". Round Dances included "Black
Hawk Waltz" and "Jessie Polka". How many dancers today could
Square or Round Dance to these tunes?
The Second and third dances in
1955 & 1956 took place in the Jewish Center under the leadership of Bill
& Nora Camp. In 1957 Bill turned the festival over to the newly
organized Northeast Florida Dancers Association.
Not many dancers remain who
attended the first Fall Roundup in 1954 or still remember dancing to the
"Father of the Fall Festival", Bill (and Nora) Camp. Bill passed
away in 1979 and Nora in 1988.
From 1954 until 1962 the Fall
Festival was staffed by local callers and Round Dance Leaders with the
exception of 1958 when National Caller Jim Pierson called at the Garden
Center. in 1962 the Roundup began featuring National Callers on a
The Roundup became a weekend
with local Caller and Cuers handling the Friday night program and
National Callers featured on Saturday. The first weekend event was
held at the Civic Auditorium and featured Johnny Creel of New Orleans.
The Format changed in 1973 to
feature National Callers and Cuers on both night of the Roundup.
This two-caller format continued until 1989. During the late '80's
the hiring of two National Callers began to seriously deplete the
treasury of the Association. In 1990 the name was changed to the
Fall Festival and the format was returned to its original concept of
Northeast Callers and Cuers on Friday night with a National Caller and
Cuer featured on the Saturday program. The event has remained a
profitable endeavor since then.
In 1994 the Friday night
program became a "Theme Dance" featuring a parade of clubs.