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Ashe fiddlers’ convention returns Aug. 1

By Jesse Campbell (jesse.campbell@mountaintimes.com)



Article Published: Jun. 26 | Modified: Jun. 26

While oversight of the Ashe County Bluegrass and Old-Time Fiddler’s Convention has changed hands, the organizers’ mission of preserving mountain music and heritage remains unchanged, as the festival enters its 44th year.

The weekend of pickin’ and jammin’ commences around 5 p.m. Friday, Aug. 1, at Ashe County Park before concluding for the evening with overnight camping for those who wish to take advantage of the amenities. Cost is $10 for single day admission and $15 for both days.

For the past 44 years, the festival was organized and produced by the Jeffersons Rotary Club, but it is now in the hands of the Ashe County Arts Council of West Jefferson.

“Last year, for a variety of reasons, they thought it was time to pass (the festival) to someone else,” said Jane Lonon, executive director of the arts council. “The arts council raised its hand and said, ‘We will do it.’”

Lonon added that organizers have the “sincere desire to make this one of the best events ever for Ashe County.”

Unlike other mountain music fests, the convention operates under an open schedule format, meaning musicians pay and enter at the gates as guests, and organizers are completely unaware just who might make an appearance.

In addition to various artists’ showcases, the convention will also feature folk song competitions, both in individual and band formats, and a dance competition.

Bands can compete twice, and judges will take their best performance as the overall score. Individuals may only compete once, but can do so in multiple categories.

Considering the arts council hosts and coordinates several events throughout the year that highlight cultural aspects in Ashe County, organizers were tasked with ensuring a smooth transition after 44 years of the same oversight.

“We wanted to make sure, as what we did as sponsors, is to make this the best possible event for audience members, people learning and enjoying music, as well as honoring the heritage of mountain music,” Lonon said. “With any event, the first year of doing something is always the hardest.”

For more information, call the Ashe County Arts Council at (336) 846-2787, or visit http://www.ashecountyarts.org.

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