If there were such a thing as square dancing royalty, Floyd and Judy Engelhardt would reign supreme in Minnesota.
In 2007, the Le Sueur couple became the third in the country to square dance in all 50 states and register the feat with the United Square Dancers of America. Since then, only four other couples in the nation have earned the distinction.
"When we started, we never really thought we'd do it," Judy said.
They not only accomplished that goal, but have forged even farther ahead. And now the couple that is 18 states into its second square dancing tour of the United States will serve as unofficial nobility during the Minnesota State Square and Round Dance Convention on Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the Verizon Wireless Center in Mankato.
The event is expected to attract more than 600 dancers from around the area and state, as well as Canada. Visitors are invited to watch the Grand March at 7 p.m. on Friday as well dancing activities on Saturday and Sunday. In the true democratic spirit of square dancing, there is no competition at the convention, only friendly dances.
As for Floyd and Judy, what began 41 years ago as a pleasant escape from the responsibilities of raising a family has now turned into a full-time pursuit.
They plan weekend trips and vacations around square dancing. When they drive to visit family, they stop along the route to join local square dancing clubs. They belong to a square-dancing camping club and maintain a fabric wall-hanging in their living room that details each of their dancing destinations.
Along the way, the couple who celebrates 50 years of marriage in February of 2014 said square dancing has not only afforded them countless friends across the country, but a stronger bond between themselves.
"When we started, we had young kids. We were busy and didn't do much together," Judy recalled.