The Insider’s Guide to Fermilab Barn Dances

Friday, Sep 9th, 2016 by

Did you know that Fermilab offers a number of barn dances during the year that are open to families? If you want to expose your children to something new, our contributor Meg provides the insider’s knowledge she’s gained from regularly attending these dances her son!


When, where, and how much?
The Fermilab community barn dances start for the 2016 season on Sunday, Sept. 11 with a 6:30 p.m. dance. These dances are offered on the second Sunday of the month, September through June.


There are also afternoon dances offered on the third Sunday of the month that run from 2 to 5 p.m., November through April. They are co-sponsored by the Fox Valley Folklore Society and the Chicago Barn Dance Company.


All dances are held in the Kuhn Village Barn, near the east entrance on the Fermilab campus. Drivers should be prepared to show their license at the gate as they enter the facility. You can find directions here.


Admission to the dances is $7 at the door. Children ages 12-18 and seniors over 65 are $4. Kids under 12 are free.


Fermilab Barn Dances are offered regularly in Batavia, Ill.

Photo by Jennifer Shilt

What to expect:

The dances feature live old-time and Irish music. A caller teaches and leads each dance, so they’re easy for new dancers to pick up and are appropriate for all ages.


Generally, to participate fully, kids should know their right from their left and be OK with interacting with people who are not their parents – such as, taking hands in a circle with someone they may not know. Parents are responsible for their children during the dance and should be ready to help the organizers enforce safety rules; there’s no running across the dance floor while people are dancing, for example, to avoid collisions.


Small babies and toddlers could ride in a carrier during dances if they cannot reliably walk on their own. Smaller children can also dance as your “twin” – e.g., dancing as though you are one person, with your partner, so the child is always accompanied by you on the dance floor.


A view of a Fermilab barn dance in Batavia, Ill.

Photo by Jennifer Shilt

Why you should consider going:

The crowd that comes to these dances is generally accepting and welcoming of children, and while a toddler might not be ready to dance as part of an organized activity, it’s a great way to introduce kids to live music. I would have no problem at all bringing a grade schooler to these events, so it’s great for families with older and younger kids who want something everyone can enjoy at their own level.


About the Author: 

Meg is a member of Cosmic Otters, the band that will be performing at the dance on Sept. 11, 2016. You can find them on Facebook. Meg will also be teaching a teaching parent-child music classes at Hootenanny House in Geneva, which include singing, movement activities, fingerplays and more.