Our Allegany State Park Historical Society (ASPHS) had our biggest turnout yet, this past Saturday, at our monthly meeting. With a packed house of approximately 80 people in attendance at the park’s school building classroom at Camp Allegany, the audience was captivated and mesmerized by our guest speaker, Bob Byledbal.
Mr. Byledbal is a charismatic and upbeat man who had operated the Allegany State Park concessions of the park stores, the Quaker Snack Pavilion, and then later the Quaker Dance Hall and also the Red House Dance Pavilion from 1951 until and including 1978.
The subject of Bob’s talk was the “History of the Dances and Dance Halls at Allegany State Park,” and he did not disappoint us. He went all out for this presentation that included a computerized PowerPoint presentation and an audio and video sound system that was all controlled off to the side by Bob’s son, Rob Byledbal. He also had old photos, old park Dawn Dance posters, original film footage of square dance calling from the early 1950s, as well as actual original audio recordings of some of these memorable dances held in the park.
That was followed by Bob’s fun quiz on his presentation, with some lucky winners taking home some mementos of Bob’s exciting talk. Their prizes were old original 45 records that were once actually played in the Dance Halls.
With a big huge smile through all of his reminiscing, the Dawn Dances were his favorite he said. They were held the Saturday of each Labor Day Weekend starting at 9 p.m. and would continue until the break of dawn, thus given the name Dawn Dance. The Quaker Dance Hall closed after Labor Day Weekend of 1970 and was used by the park for storage of appliances. The last dance ever held at the Red House Dance Pavilion was on July 4, 1973.
After the dances ended in the park, this Red House Pavilion was used as a snack bar and game room, and was torn down in the fall of 1984. A miniature golf course was built on the exact same site as this old Dance Pavilion.
If you have any questions about park history or ASPHS, please contact Bob Schmid, Director of the ASPHS on their Facebook page or call (716) 400-1834.