Richter named ‘Fiddler of the Festival’
Meade Grey Richter, Bethel native, Watauga High School graduate and East Tennessee State University freshman, won the top award at the Union Grove Ole Time Fiddlers and Bluegrass Festival, held May 25 to 27.
Union Grove hosts the oldest continuous fiddlers convention in the United States, attracting people of all ages from across North America. Tickets are limited to 5,000, and the festival regularly sells out.
There is competition in string music in all categories, as well as junior and senior competition over a two-day period.
The grand finale is the naming of “The Fiddler of the Festival.” This award is chosen from competition among the champions of each division of fiddling competition. After the fiddler has won this honor twice, he or she will have proven to be a master fiddler and will be elevated to a special role as performing artist during the festival. Richter won Fiddler of the Festival first in 2009 and again this year 2012.
Richter began competing in the festival when he was in the eighth grade. He won the twin fiddle competition performing with his teacher, Cecil Gurganus. Richter has been champion of the old-time fiddle competition (senior division), as well as champion of the bluegrass competition, among others. He has been a performer in the winning bands twice, first in the Laurel Hill String Band led by Cecil Gurganus and this year in the Sons of Bluegrass, which he led in this year’s competition.
Richter has attended festivals all over the eastern seaboard since he was in middle school in Bethel and high school at Watauga. He is currently enrolled at East Tennessee State University, where he is majoring in the bluegrass, old-time music, country and Celtic music program. He recently performed with Mark O’Connor, who was conducting workshops and performing in Johnson City, Tenn. Richter is also available to perform at private functions.
He is the son of Bruce Richter and Hilda Downer.