By Sherrie Norris
In mid-March, High Country Cloggers will be traveling to Dublin, Ireland to perform in the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade, known as one of the largest, if not the largest, events of its kind in the world.
“We are so honored and excited to be a part of this spectacular event,” said team director, Amber Hendley.
The invitation to participate in the parade came last year, a few weeks after the clogging team performed for the 2021 Presidential Inauguration in Washington, DC.
“We were thrilled to have been given that opportunity to perform on a national level, Hendley shared. “A few weeks later, we received a phone call from Music Celebrations, an international company that provides entertainment for the largest events around the world. They orchestrate events that are typically tied to prestigious commemorative events, historic anniversaries and other important happenings everywhere.”
It was that phone call that changed everything for the cloggers, Hendley said. “They asked us if we would be interested in performing at one of the largest celebrations in the world — the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Dublin, Ireland. Of course, we said absolutely, it would be an honor.”
The group representing the High Country — 49 individuals, dancers of all ages, as well as a few of their family members and friends — will be among the half-million people expected in Ireland’s capital and largest city for the annual celebration. And the excitement is mounting for all of them as the date closes in.
In the meantime, the dancers are raising money, individually and as a team, and hoping for community support through sponsorships and donations of any amount to help cover the cost of the trip, estimated to be around $2000 per person.
The group will be leaving the High Country on Tuesday, March 15, flying to Dublin where their arrival the next day will set the stage for a whirlwind week of activity.
They will enjoy guided tours of some of the country’s most famous sites, including Trinity College, Ireland’s oldest university founded by Queen Elizabeth 1 in 1592, and the National Museum of Ireland, which houses artifacts dating from 7,000 BC to the 20th century. And that’s just for starters.
Thursday, March 17, will be the highlight of the entire trip for the High Country Cloggers as they perform as part of the world-famous Dublin St. Patrick’s Day Festival and Parade.
For two hours, they will participate in an awesome display of creative talent —along with international and Irish marching bands, other dancers and street theatre companies for the festivities. Afterward, they will be able to relax as guests and enjoy the atmosphere of the celebration.
The remainder of their journey will include more sight-seeing opportunities to places such as the Rock of Cashel, one of Ireland’s most spectacular archeological sites, as well as a visit to King John’s Castle in Limerick, and an excursion to the Cliffs of Moher, another of Ireland’s most spectacular sights. They will enjoy a sheepdog demonstration at the Caherconnell Stone Fort.
On their sixth and final day, High Country Cloggers will perform in Limerick as part of the country’s ongoing St. Patrick Celebration. They will depart on Monday, March 21, for their return trip to Boone.
As director of the long-time dance team, along with her mother, Vanessa Minton, Hendley describes the upcoming trip as “ an amazing opportunity.”
Mother and Daughter Reflect on Clogging Through Life Together
Hendley gives much credit for the ongoing success of the clogging team to her mother. “She has taught me everything I know and instilled within me the love for clogging at an early age.”
Hendley described Minton as a dynamic leader who started High Country Cloggers in 1989. “My mother was a former Grandfather Mountain Clogger and Tweetsie Can-Can girl in the ‘70s.”
Having grown up her under her mother’s high-stepping influence, Hendley said when it came time for her to go to college, she chose to attended Mars Hill University, Home of the Bailey Mountain Cloggers, winners of multiple national championships.
“I had the opportunity to perform in Ireland with the Bailey Mountain Cloggers years ago and fell in love with the people and the beautiful country that it is. I have always wanted to return there, and now, I have an opportunity to do just that and perform there once again.”
Her mother, in turn, gives thanks to God for the way they have been blessed with great success through the years. And, she added, “I am thankful that Amber has picked up the torch and carries it so well.”
Hendley said she can hardly find the words to adequately express how “incredible it is,” to be able to share this opportunity with her mother and their team.
Minton is excited, as well, as she shared that some of her adult dancers, who have been with her for 16 years, are going on the trip.
“We have members of our team who have never been out of the country, and we are thankful that we are all able to go together,” she said. “We’re going to see and do some amazing things. As far as we know right now, even with Covid still in the news, everything is going as planned.”
Hendley described their team as “such a wonderful group of people,” and the dance studio as “such a special place.”
“We have built lifelong relationships and friendships with some awesome people. We are so thankful to be a part of this group, and we’re honored to share these memorable experiences with some of our best friends and teammates.”
Minton added that the dancers have worked hard to try to raise enough money for this trip, but there are those who could still use some help.
“We couldn’t do this without the support of the community and we are grateful for every penny that is helping to make this trip possible for those who otherwise might not be able to go.”
Another special opportunity has just presented itself to the dance team in recent days with an invitation for them to perform at the National Mall in Washington, DC on July 4. “We would love to invite any and all cloggers to join us for this three-day tour, which will be very affordable and a great experience, as well,” Hendley said. “We have already begun working on our routines for all of that, but first, we are going to Ireland!”
For more information on how you can help support High Country Cloggers on their trip to Ireland, contact Amber Hendley, Director of High Country Dance Studio, by calling (828) 773-1335.
Or send your donation to High Country Cloggers 122 Windswept Way, Boone NC 28607.