HAMLIN — The Lincoln County Cloggers are embracing their Appalachian roots by dancing their way across Southern West Virginia.
Instructor Tosha Smith said she and co-instructor Liza Hofmann took over recently after the founder of the group retired.
“The group Lincoln County Cloggers has been here for a little over 20 years,” Smith said. “It was started by Michael Midkiff of Branchland. He retired last year.
“Liza had been dancing with him for about 18 years. My oldest daughter started with him about eight years ago, and my other two daughters and I started with him about three years ago. So he taught us all.”
Smith said she and Hofmann had the challenge through the coronavirus pandemic of working to build the group up in anticipation for live events making a comeback. She said they found ways to practice safely after taking a few months off last year.
“We decided that we would continue the group,” Smith said. “At that time, we had a handful of cloggers that came with us and then we opened it up and have had some new ones that have started within the last year. Those are some of the younger kids that we have in the group.”
The group recently performed at the West Virginia Coal Festival in Boone County and was set to appear at the Freedom Festival in Logan County. They have also showcased in Matewan and have plans to appear in Williamson later this year. Other plans include appearances at the Cabell County Fair and the West Virginia State Fair.
Smith said they are also about to restart beginner classes, with a session set for this fall. They currently have 11 dancers.
“We would like to have new members,” Smith said. “We’re going to do classes through the month of October. If we have any interest, we can tell within about four to five weeks if someone has the ability or not.”
Smith said although her daughter’s participation is what initially brought her in, the relationships built is what has kept her there all these years later.
“It’s just the relationships and the good times that we share together,” Smith said. “Learning new songs together, it’s just a good community and a good atmosphere.”
Smith said she was interested in helping to keep the group going because she sees the importance in keeping old-time traditions alive for the next generation.
“It’s part of our heritage,” Smith said. “If we don’t teach the next generation, it’s going to die out. It’s not something that you see real common here now. It came from this area in the past, and I don’t want it to be lost.”
Smith said anyone interested in classes or having the group appear at an event can contact her at 304-778-2530 or Lincoln County Cloggers on Facebook. She said beginner classes are open to all ages.