Cascade Contras on the River 2023

Registration opens on July 15!

Cascade Contras on the River is an urban contra dance weekend in a lovely venue beside a park and the Willamette River in Springfield, Oregon. You will enjoy 14 hours of terrific contra music by two outstanding bands. The Dam Beavers are Ben Schreiber and Scotty Leach! Force for Nature is Jeff Spero, Audrey Light and Sam Bartlett. We’ll have two great callers, Susan Petrick and Michael Karcher. It will be a terrific weekend!

The Eugene Folklore Society values equality and mutual respect. We appreciate the diversity of gender, age, race, ethnicity, national origin, range of abilities, sexual orientation, gender identity. and gender expression. We actively cultivate a climate of purposeful inclusion of all. Gender neutral calling will be used for all dances.

As in other urban dance camps, dancers will need to arrange their own lodging and meals for the weekend. We will be posting discount lodging information as well as dining options a short walk from the dance venue.

Questions about camp? Send an email to the Cascade Contras Committee.


The Dam Beavers are Ben Schreiber on fiddle, Scotty Leach on keyboard. With roots in a wide variety of styles and genres, their music comprises an eclectic mix of old and new, familiar and unfamiliar. Let the current sweep you away as the Dam Beavers build a dam of rhythm beneath your feet.


Audrey Knuth

Force for Nature consists of Audrey Knuth on fiddle and Jeff Spero on keyboard. You know Audrey is performing if the room is buzzing at a higher level. Her fiddling, featured in bands including The Free Raisins, The Gaslight Tinkers, Audacious (with Larry Unger), and Wake Up Robin, has electrified dance and concert halls across the US and Europe. Hailing from Honolulu and now living in California, she cut her folk teeth in the Boston area, attending Berklee College of Music and spending years exploring the thriving New England folk scene. Audrey’s fiddle playing is rhythmically lively and spontaneous; she’s guaranteed to get you up and dancing. She specializes in English dance, New England, Celtic, and Old Time tunes, and did we mention she’s also an audio engineer?! For more on Audrey, visit her at

Jeff Spero

Jeff Spero has been playing piano and singing since he was five years old. At a young age, he discovered an affinity for popular music and developed his style emulating musicians like James Taylor, Elton John, and Bruce Hornsby. In his 30s, he brought his rhythmic style to American and Celtic folk and dance music and now travels around the country playing dances, concerts and festivals with bands such as Syncopaths and Rhythm Raptors.

John Oorthuys

Photo of John Oorthuys
John Oorthuys

A great contra dance needs a great sound engineer, and we have one! John Oorthuys has handled the sound board for many, many dances, balls, camps, and special events across the Northwest. Highly regarded by dancers, musicians, and callers for his high-quality sound work, John will apply his skills at Cascade Contras on the River and his wizardry will make the sound fantastic.

Susan Petrick

Susan Petrick

Susan lives in Mountain View, CA and has become a regional treasure with national prominence. She is well-known for her clear teaching, efficient guidance, and expert pacing, making even complex dances accessible to all. She has been calling all over the country for more than a decade. Her gracious manner along with her clarity and confidence on stage have made her one of the most sought after callers in the Pacific Northwest. As a dancer herself, she knows what makes dancers happy and as a caller, she is always conscious of what is happening on the dance floor. Susan brings with her a diverse collection of dances featuring many flowing and flirty contras that will please your feet and satisfy your soul!

Photo of Michael Karcher
Michael Karcher

Michael Karcher

We loved Michael’s calling for Cascade Contras in 2022 and we will have him back for 2023! Michael has been having the time of his life calling dances and weekends around the North America since 2011. He has trained with Lisa Greenleaf and Niles Fredland and has honed a warm and concise style of teaching and calling, to the delight of dancers across the continent. 

Here’s our overall schedule for the weekend. Details may be revised and expanded.

FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 29 – Dancer check-in will open at 6 pm. Dancing will begin at 7:30 pm and continue with bands and callers alternating until 10:30 pm.

SATURDAY September 30 – Dancer check-in will open at 8:30 am, with dancing starting at 9:15 am and continuing until 10:30 pm with lunch and dinner breaks.

SUNDAY OCTOBER 1 – Building opens at 9:30 am with waltzing at 10:15 am, with contras starting at 10:30 am. There will be a lunch break and dancing will then continue until 4 pm.

Refunds may be requested prior to September 1. In case of a refund, $25 will be retained and the balance of the fee paid will be refunded. After September 1, fees paid cannot be refunded except in the case of illness or event cancellation, as described below.

We will ask anyone who is ill, or who is part of a household where a person is ill, to stay home and not attend the event. The following refund policy will reduce your financial risk of registering for Cascade Contras on the River, if you are unable to attend due to a positive COVID test or illness.

If, at the time of Cascade Contras on the River, a registered dancer has a positive COVID test, has COVID symptoms, or is otherwise ill, or a member of their household has a positive COVID test, has COVID symptoms, or is otherwise ill, a full refund of fees paid will be provided upon request.

If the pandemic causes Cascade Contras on the River to be entirely cancelled, all registered dancers will be provided a full refund of fees paid.

FAQ will be posted prior to registration.

Cascade Contras on the River will be following the COVID safety protocol of the Eugene Folklore Society in effect at the time of the event. Current protocol requires dancers to show proof of being vaccinated for COVID and provide proof of a negative home rapid antigen test done within 6 hours of your first arrival at the event. Masks are currently required while dancing. Please note that the Eugene Folklore Society may change this protocol, depending on the course of the pandemic.

Read the Current EFS COVID Safety Policy

Read the Current EFS Liability Waiver

McKenzie Room

Located in downtown Springfield alongside a wonderful park and the Willamette River, the Willamalane Adult Activity Center is a beautiful, modern facility featuring a comfortable lounge area and outdoor patio overlooking the river and Island Park. The center’s lovely setting, spacious interior, stage, and dance floor are ideal for our contra dancing weekend and can accommodate up to 200 people. Ample parking is available at the Center and on adjacent streets.

We will be dancing in the McKenzie Room, a 2,300-square-foot multi-purpose room suitable for large gatherings and special events. Key features include an excellent wood floor and performance stage. This room connects to the Cascade Room, an 800 square foot room that will be our cloakroom and provide social and relaxation space. During most of the weekend, we will also have full use of the large, comfortable lounge area and patio for socializing and relaxing.

The property is operated by the Willamalane Park and Recreation District. Terms of rental do not allow alcohol, tobacco and marijuana in any form on the Activity Center property. Dogs and other pets are also not allowed in the Activity Center.

Simple snacks will be provided, but dancers will be responsible for their own meals. There will be breaks for lunch and dinner on Saturday, and a lunch break on Sunday.

Photo of downtown Springfield
Main Street, Springfield Oregon

If you want to purchase a meal, there are multiple pubs and restaurants in Springfield’s historic downtown within a few minutes walk of the dance venue. Additional eating options are within a 5-10 minute drive. You could also pack a lunch or dinner and eat at the Activity Center or in scenic Island Park along the river.

There are plenty of lodging choices in Eugene and Springfield within easy driving distance of the Activity Center. Numerous Airbnb and VRBO rentals can be found in the area. We will post discounter rates to one or more local hotels here.