In 1996, the Lewis Oliver Farm’s Friends of the Farm in Northport held its first barn dance. Twenty years later, the not-for profit is still letting Long Islanders move to the beat for its annual barn dance fundraiser to be held on Saturday, April 16, at the St. Philip Neri Parish Center in the village.
For members of Friends of the Farm, the dance isn’t simply a tradition but also provides funds for its approximately 60 animals. According to the organization, the dance was specifically created to help care for the farm animals.
While the 100-year-old farm used to produce butter and eggs in its prime, the organization now provides sanctuary-like care for Annabelle the cow, Tiny the pig, sheep Bitsie and Pepper, alpacas Ezra and Onyx, chickens, goats, rabbits, turkeys and more. The funds also help preserve the farm, which has been an area attraction for Northport community members.
“You see little boys and they’re playing ball and they’re independent and they want to get an ice cream,” said Wendy Erlandson, president of Friends of the Farm. “When I was growing up in Brooklyn I could do that … there were plenty of places to go but here there aren’t.”
According to Erlandson and another Friends of the Farm member, Judy, the dance is the not-for-profit’s main fundraising event to help the farm. The duo said the farm was in jeopardy of closing 15 to 20 years ago. Now, with fundraising events like the barn dance, the farm can continue to thrive and be one way for kids to learn about some of the animals they see in their books.
“I think it is important to teach children … that [animals] don’t just appear. You just don’t push a button and there’s your animal like it is on Google,” Judy said. “You’ve got to feed it, you’ve got to wash it, you’ve got to take care of its health, oversee it … and [children] can be part of it.”
Judy added that community support is important especially since one ticket alone could pay for items like a bag of chicken feed. Erlandson said they’ve sold around 180 tickets thus far but there’s still room for more community members.
Erlandson added that ticketholders can take a chance on raffle prizes, with baskets valued at upward of $100 each, and enjoy samples from local restaurants including Maroni’s, Aunt Chilada’s, Three Amigo’s, Deli 51 and Batata Cafe. Beer, wine and coffee along with dessert from Copenhagen’s Bakery will also be served during the dance.
Live music will be provided by the band Just Cause (country, rock).
This year, the Friends of the Farm has partnered with a fellow not-for-profit, Rock Can Roll Inc., which provides nonperishable items for food pantries on the Island. Residents are asked to bring a healthy nonperishable item to the event for people or pets to support the cause.
Residents who wish to attend this year’s barn dance can purchase tickets in advance for $50 or at the door for $60 per person. The Barn Dance will be held at the St. Philip Neri Parish Center at 15 Prospect St., Northport Village, from 7 to 11 p.m.
For more information or to purchase tickets, call Lynn at 631-757-9626 or leave a message at the farm at 631-261-6320.