The 45th annual Ashe County Bluegrass and Old Time Fiddlers Convention will take place Friday, Aug. 1 - 2 at Ashe County Park in Jefferson, this time with a new sponsor for the first time in the event’s 44 years.
The festival will run from 5 p.m.-11 p.m. Friday and continue from 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Saturday.
The price of admission is $10 for one day and $15 for both. Tent and limited RV camping is available on-site for a per night fee.
For a while, the future of the event was in limbo after the Rotary Club of the Jeffersons backed out of sponsoring the event late last year, that was until the Ashe County Arts Council stepped up to the plate and took over sponsorship responsibilities.
“We took over sponsorship six months ago,” Jane Lonon, executive director of the Arts Council, said.
Lonon said the Rotary Club was looking for other fundraising alternatives while experiencing decreasing enrollment within their organization, which is why they dropped out after 44 years of sponsoring the event they started.
“We stepped up to the plate and it fits our mission,” Lonon said. “It’s been great to be part of a quality event for the past six months.”
“Summertime complete with traditional music is a big part of Ashe County,” Lonon said.
The Fiddlers Convention is similar to others held in places like Galax, Virginia, and Surry County, where musicians pay to play for awards, recognition and for the fun of it. The musicians are refunded the entry fee after they perform.
“These musicians move around all summer,” Lonon said.
Lonon and the Arts Council hope this summer is the start of a growth and strengthening process for the Fiddlers Convention in Ashe County.”
“It’s going to be a quality weekend of music, celebrating the excellence in traditional music,” Lonon said.
In addition to longtime emcee Dale Morris, the judges for this year’s festival are Kyle Dean Smith (banjo, mandolin, bass fiddle, dobro and guitar), Joe Shelton (lap and hammer dulcimer, banjo and fiddle) and Lynn Worth (bass, banjo, fiddle and guitar).
This year’s festival is sponsored by AEV, Scott Harris Guitar Shop, Boondocks Brewing, LifeStore and Ashe County Ford.
Proceeds from the Fiddlers Convention will be used to support the Junior Appalachian Musicians Program (JAM). JAM provides free instruction in fiddle, banjo and guitar for students in grades 4-6 in the county’s three elementary schools.
For more information on this year’s festival visit the Ashe County Arts Council at 303 School Avenue in West Jefferson, call them at 336-846-2787 or visit the Fiddlers Convention website at www.ashefiddlersconvention.org.
Alan Bulluck can be reached at (336) 846-7164 or on Twitter @albulluck.