A lassoing contest, hot cider, line-dancing, a roaring fire; all true elements of a great southern-style hoedown. However, where this hoedown took place might shock you; not along the Appalachians, outside a bar in Tennessee, or in the middle of Montana – this hoedown was mere minutes away from Hope College proper, at the Teusink Pony Farm. The farm itself has been in operation for over one hundred and twenty years, priding itself on oldfashioned fun. Throughout the years, the college has done its best to create its own tradition of bringing interested students to the farm, free of charge, once a year, and last Friday from 8 p.m. until midnight was finally the time for that tradition to continue.
Hosted by SAC with transportation provided, a wide variety of fall-inspired, fun hoedown activities were available for participants to choose from. A typical run through might look a little something like this: Once a student was able to exit the bus they could fall in line for trail mix and donuts, as well as refreshing cider either hot or chilled. After talking with friends around the fire and admiring each other’s flannel, you could then move on to try your hand at the lasso. While waiting for the hay ride to come back, attendees were able to spend some time in the barn, either admiring the farm animals or picking their way through the hay bale maze.
With a member of the staff overseeing the process, bunnies were made available to be held and cuddled for any student with a soft side. Larger animals such as donkeys, sheep, and even a cow were also on standby for curious onlookers – international students from very urban areas seemed especially delighted to see the animals in person. Once the wagon arrived, students were free to hop on and gaze at the stars out on the trail. Afterwards, students were able to finish the night by line-dancing with friends to a variety of tunes; lessons were provided for anyone who wanted them, so that even those dancers with “two left feet” could feel comfortable and get in on the fun without any pressure.
The students appreciate the annual opportunity to come out to the farm, and the feeling seems mutual, according to a brief interview with Michelle Teusink, whose family owns and operates the farm She noted that the staff takes care of setting up the event, i.e chopping firewood, preparing the animals and checking the wagons. SAC meets the farm halfway, providing the food and drinks. Hope students who attend are expected to be respectful with the facilities and courteous with the animals, as the cordial relationship between the school and the farm is what allows the event to be so manageable. A great time for all involved, students can look forward to the same tradition next year!