JEFFERSON — The Ashe County Arts Council is sponsoring the 46th annual Ashe County Bluegrass and Old Time Fiddlers Convention on Friday and Saturday, July 24 and 25. The bluegrass and old time music competition for adults and youth will take place at Ashe County Park located in Jefferson.
The Fiddlers Convention is a celebration and showcase of the musical talent and heritage of the high country of North Carolina. Saturday will be the competition day with youth competition starting at 11 a.m. Adult individual instruments start at 2 p.m., dance competitions at 6 p.m. and band competitions at 7:30 p.m. The youth award presentations will be at 7 p.m. and will include the Youth Guitar Merit Award.
The Arts Council recently announced the new 2015 Youth Guitar Merit Award in which one youth competitor will be awarded a handcrafted three-fourths size guitar made by luthier John Maddocks. The award is open to all young people entering the Youth Guitar category. The prize is separate from the competition awards.
“I want the guitar to go to a young player that has potential and an enthusiasm for traditional music,” stated John Maddocks. “ I want to encourage a young student that might not win the first place prize but a player that wants to continue his studies at his chosen art.”
John Maddocks made his first stringed instrument, a mountain dulcimer, in 1974. A musician friend asked if he could recreate an instrument he had seen at Union Grove. With enthusiasm, but no experience he began a 40-year journey as a luthier. For most of that trip his full time job as a school administrator limited him to one or two instruments a year. Since retiring he has made an additional 62. While the majority of his creations have been dulcimers, he has also made a dozen guitars and 10 open-back banjos. His instruments use native woods when possible and often explore the possibilities of design modifications and innovations.
A new addition to the convention will be on Friday night with the Appalachian Barn Dance with bands Crooked Road Ramblers and Strictly Strings with Cecil Gurganus. It will be held at the Lakeview Shelter at Ashe Park starting at 7 p.m. Dance caller John Turner will be calling reels, big circles, four couple figures and more. All ages and experience welcome. Admission is $5 per person and children under 12 are free with accompanying adult.
Camping will be available on site and will be available starting on Thursday, July 23 at 6 p.m. The spaces will be available first come first serve. Camping fees vary and not included in convention admission ticket.
Concessions are sponsored by the Todd Ruritan Club and food offerings include pork barbecue sandwiches and plates, hamburgers, hot dogs, chips, desserts, soft drinks, coffee and water.
Musicians will register the day of the competition. Performance slots will be allocated on a first-come-first-serve basis. Competition winners in adult categories will be awarded cash prizes.
The emcee for 2015 will be musician Dale Morris. Judges will be Kyle Dean Smith, Ken Landreth and Tom Mylet. John Turner will be the dance judge.
Full competition rules, schedules, and awards can be found at www.ashefiddlersconvention.org.
Admission is $5 for Friday only, $10 Saturday only or $15 for both days. Tickets can be purchased on site or by calling the Ashe County Arts Council at 336-846-2787.