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Musicians jam, contra dancers twirl at Martha Hope Cabin
Contra dancers can swing their partners around the Martha Hope Cabin on Saturday in Gainesville with Toss the Possum providing the music.

Toss the Possum activities
When: Noon to 7 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 8
Where: Martha Hope Cabin, 528 Prior St., Gainesville
Cost: Free but reservations recommended due to 50 dancer limit
More info: or

Contra dancers used to kicking up their heels at the First Baptist Church on a monthly basis will experience a special treat this weekend.

The national touring band, Toss the Possum, will provide a full afternoon of dancing, jamming and picnics Saturday, Aug. 8, at the Martha Hope Cabin in downtown Gainesville. The regular contra dance at the church’s Family Life Center will follow later in the evening.

Afternoon events will start with a picnic and jam session from noon to 1 p.m. Menus from a few local restaurants will be available and orders can be delivered.

Visitors, however, may bring their own lunch or dinner picnic at the cabin.

From 1-2 p.m. participants may with Toss the Possum’s Rob Zisette. The 23-year-old man is a phenomenal fiddler, winning his first fiddling contest at age 8.

The other half of Toss the Possum is Zisette’s mother, Laura, a classically trained pianist and retired music professor.

The two will continue the entertainment from 2-3 p.m. with some waltzing followed by an advanced contra dance moves workshop from 3-4 p.m. with Rob Zisette.

A contra dance with Cis Hinkle calling will be from 4 to 5:30 p.m. Then a picnic and jam time will close out the event from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.

All events are free and will take place at The Martha Hope Cabin, 528 Prior St., behind the Gainesville Civic Center and past the tennis courts.

The events are limited to 50 dancers, and reservations are recommended.

Following the afternoon activities at the cabin, the First Baptist Church will host is regular contra dance.

Lessons will begin at 7:30 p.m. with the dance being from 8-11 p.m. at 751 Green St., about a mile from the square.

Tickets to the evening dance is $10 for adults, $5 for teens, and free for children and nondancers. A family maximum price is  $20.

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