Highland Old Time Fiddlers Convention draws 500
Monterey, Va. – (Music clip)
That’s the Longwood, Florida band Jubal’s Kin, the show band for the recent Highland Old Time Fiddlers Convention held in Monterey. Jay Garber, the President of the Convention association, talks about how this event was conceived.
“Last year at the Historical Society picnic fundraiser, there was Jeff and Alice Shumate on the lawn with Pat and Mike Harrison from Harrisonburg playing old time music and people just seemed to hang around and listen and I was thinking this is really nice and enjoyable and people seemed to like it,” he said. “Maybe it’s something that’ll work. Alice and I had several talks after that about it and decided let’s give it a try and see what can be done.”
Alice Shumate and Jay decided to do a test event during last year’s Fall Festival to see how the public would respond.
“So we decided at the Hands To Harvest Festival in October to see if we could get some people to come over and play music down at Tim Duff’s while he was making apple butter and cider and what not,” said Garber. “We got a group to come over and play and with that group Dick Lamb came along. Dick has been playing and competing in old time music for thirty-some years and that’s where I met Dick and he was very interested in trying to get something started here. Finally in December we decided to have our first meeting to see about organizing something.”
The popularity of that event stimulated the group to see what steps should be taken next to bring a weekend old time music festival to Highland County.
“That’s when we met at my house and sat around and elected the people to run the organization,” said Garber. “Tim Duff was the Vice-President, Alice Shumate was the Secretary, and Luanne Neely as the Treasurer. Later she had to give that up due to her own business interests. Andy Holmaas was willing to step in and Dick Lamb stepped in as competition advisor. We had Randy Richardson and Clay Hamilton, Gene McConnell from Circleville, and later Tom Wilson came and ran the things. And that’s how it got started. In January we had our first meeting to discuss whether it could go and what we needed to get started down that road.”
The group was very fortunate that a date opened up in the old time music festival circuit schedule, so they made plans for their event to be held on Father’s Day weekend.
“Dick organized all of the competitions and Dick was responsible for all of the musicians here,” said Garber. “Everybody in the organization gave 110% or more. It just all came together and it really worked. We had a real good turnout. All the musicians were just tickled to death with the hospitality of the people of Highland County and the location. Everybody said we will see you next year and we will bring a friend. So we’re very pleased with the turnout and the public response has been wonderful too.”
One hundred forty-seven musicians registered for the competition and about 350 audience members paid admission, for a total attendance of around 500 people over the weekend. The band competition was won by The Fried Goose Necks of Front Royal, Virginia. Prizes were also given in the categories of guitar, fiddle, mandolin, banjo, folk song, dulcimer and for the best dancers. In addition to the adult awards there were youth awards in several categories. With this very promising start, Jay expects the festival have an even larger attendance next year.