By Russ Pankonin
The Imperial Republican
The Chase County Fair has become known over the years for the top-name performers it draws.
While that tradition centers on the grandstand entertainment, the same proved true at this year’s fair square dance.
This year’s caller, Jerry Junck of Wayne, holds his own national acclaim in square dancing circles.
Junck is one of about 40 professional square dance callers in the country.
Junck, a native of Carroll, began square dancing in 1965, and called his first square dance when he was a senior in high school.
Little did he know then that calling would eventually become his full-time career.
Over the next 20 years, he was a club caller in northeast Nebraska and would hit the road whenever his farming operation would allow.
Then, in 1986, Junck made the decision to make square dance calling his full-time job.
Twenty-four years later, Junck still travels the Midwest and into Canada calling square dances.
In the week prior to calling the square dance at the Chase County Fair, Junck called dances in Bismarck, N.D., Miles City, Mont., Lolo, Mont., Billings, Mont., and Gillette, Wyo.
After leaving Imperial, he called in Perryton, Texas the following night, then Salina, Kan., and then Springfield, Mo.
Junck drives to most of his dates unless the distance or time frame don’t allow. Then, he flies.
For the past 20 years, Junck and his wife have wintered in Mesa, Ariz. She typically doesn’t travel with him during the summer months when he will put on about 55,000 miles from April through October.
While in Mesa, Junck is the resident caller for three travel trailer parks. He calls three dances a day, Monday through Thursday.
He said Mesa is like the Branson, Mo. of square dancing as many people head south for the winter.
Wauneta natives Jerry and Trudy Skelton live in Arizona, but come back to Nebraska during the summer.
They were here for the fair and, as avid square dancers, attended the fair’s square dance.
They knew Junck and have attended numerous dances in the Phoenix-Mesa area called by Junck, noting he is a nationally-known caller.
Junck is an accredited caller-coach and has recorded several records but the days of spinning 45s on the record player have all but passed.
Using his trusty iPod, Junck said he can store about 1,500 songs to which he can make calls to.
He said he still has a large collection of 45 records that are all indexed and in storage.
Junck said square dancing remains alive and well, but added it’s getting tougher to recruit young people to the activity.
The younger people don’t seem to be joiners like they once were, he said.
He said square dancing takes some time to learn but is a universal dance that can be done all over the world.