A little do-si-do

First local hoedown features chili and salsa cook-off

Secaucus folk are planning to don their cowboy boots and hats for the first annual Country Caucus Hoedown, which is scheduled for March 9 from 6:30 to 10:30 p.m. at the Secaucus Recreation Center. The volunteer-driven event is for all ages and includes square and line dancing, bull-riding, food, music, and a petting zoo with farm animals.
Event organizers are also asking people to show off their best chili, salsa, or apple pie for a competition that will be judged by special guests. The event costs $2 per person while the cooking contests cost $10 for registration. All proceeds from the event will benefit the Secaucus Emergency Fund.

Expanding on the square dance

“Last year they tried a square dance – a barnyard dance…some of the people liked it,” said Volunteer Organizer Mickey Halpin. “We thought we would go a step forward.”
Halpin noted that the event planning committee wanted to expand upon the square dance held last year and host an event that would appeal to all ages as well as include a cooking contest.
“We figured we’d give it a try and see if anyone wants to try out their cooking skills,” said Halpin.
The Secaucus Recreation Center will be converted into a country-Western atmosphere with cowboy and cowgirl decorations, including some that were drawn by a volunteer. People are expected to dress in a “Western casual” style.
“I think the bull riding is going to be fun,” added Halpin.
After each event, the planning committee solicits feedback from event participants and also asks the high school principal and educators what types of activities kids enjoy.
“We do a lot of things based on different activities they do in grade school and high school,” said Halpin.
Kids will be able to pet farm animals like a pig, a little lamb, chicks, and possibly a calf.

The Secaucus Recreation Center will be converted into a country-Western atmosphere.
Halpin hopes the cooking competition, which includes prizes, will draw a lot of interest.
She noted that other events have drawn big crowds.
“We’ve had great success at the bazaars [with] couple of hundred people running through at one time,” noted Halpin.
She could not specify who the cooking contest judges are because their names are kept under lock and key by Secaucus Mayor Michael Gonnelli.
In response to whether or not Halpin square dances, she replied, “Not really, but I’ll give it a try.”
While Halpin emphasized that most the events she helps organize are free, any proceeds from the event will go to the Secaucus Emergency Fund to help local people in need.
“Last year was a terrible year for people in New Jersey,” noted Halpin. “The funds are up and down in the emergency funds…we have to replenish it….[and] make sure that the [food] pantries always have enough.”


For a crew who meets every Monday to plan local events, the hoedown is just one event among a number of others that take place throughout the year such as the Easter egg hunt, the Memorial Day Parade, the street fair, a Halloween Spook Night, and the Christmas bazaar and parade. Once an event ends, planning for the next one begins.
The event planning committee includes volunteers: Judy Pascarello, Joan Cali, Susan Flanagan, Lori Trainor, Shiela Witrock, Donna Przychodzki, Donna Zbierski, Regina Bator, Paulette Halpin, Mickey Halpin, John Flanagan, Cathy Wolf, and Mayor Michael Gonnelli.
“I actually like the camaraderie,” noted Halpin who has been part of the committee the past three years. “We have a fantastic group of people that plan it…it is just a lot of fun.”
Many of the committee members donate items for the various events in addition to volunteering their time.

Event details

The first annual Country Caucus Hoedown will be held Mar. 9 from 6:30 to 10:30 p.m. at the Secaucus Recreation Center located on 1200 Koelle Blvd. The event attire is Western casual. People are welcome to register for $10 to participate in the chili, salsa, or apple pie competition. General admission is $2. All proceeds will go toward the Secaucus Emergency Fund. For more information or to register, go to: secaucusnj.org.

Adriana Rambay Fernández may be reached at afernandez@hudsonreporter.com.

© 2000, Newspaper Media Group