Highland Old Time Fiddler’s Convention

In what has quickly become and annual tradition, artists and aficionados of old time music will gather in Highland County this weekend for the Old Time Fiddler’s Convention. Andy Holmaas, host of the Old Time Railroad on Allegheny Mountain Radio and one of the event’s organizers, talked about the upcoming activities.

“The Highland Old Time Fiddler’s Convention is be July 16th – 19th at the Highland County Fairgrounds. This is the fourth year we’ve been doing it – it started with Alice and Jeff Shumate and Pat and Mike Harrison and a couple other people were playing old time music during, might have been Hands and Harvest, or something over in McDowell, and it was Jay’s idea, Jay Garber’s idea. He wanted to know if we could get this kind of music played in the county. Really came from an idea that Jay had, and snowballed from there.”

“We’ve had upwards of 200-300 (contestants) in previous years, so hopefully at least the same, and maybe more.”

Contestants will vie for top honors in a number of categories, including Old time band,

old time fiddle, banjo, guitar, mandolin, and mountain dulcimer, autoharp, bass, harmonica, spoons and mouth harp, folk song, and dance. There will also be youth categories in all above.

While  some prize money is on the line, it will mainly be about friendly competition. As Mr. Holmaas put it – “People come to compete for ribbons and bragging rights.”

A special honor will be given this year to a local musician from Pocahontas County – Andy explained more.

“Since we started this, we’ve been giving a Legend of Old Time Music Award to someone who has helped carry on old time music in the community, and nationwide in this case. The first year, of course, was Two Gun Terry from Harrisonburg. The second year was Phyllis and Jim Gaskins. Last year, it was Arnett Gutshall, and this year, we’ve decided to honor Dwight Diller. He has been instrumental in helping preserve the music of central West Virginia, especially the Hammonds Family music, from the older musicians, helping other people learn the music, and passing the music on.

“Admission is $10 – under 12 free. Camping is $15 per person per night. We have some great food vendors.

“Come to the Old Time Fiddler’s Convention, and hear how music is supposed to be played, by people passing it around to each other, and learning it from each other.”

Story By

Scott Smith

Scott Smith is the General Manager for Allegheny Mountain Radio and Station Coordinator and News Reporter for WVLS. Scott’s family has deep roots in Highland County. While he did not grow up here, he spent as much time as possible on the family farm, and eventually moved to Highland to continue the tradition, which he still pursues with his cousin. Unfortunately, farming doesn’t pay all the bills, so he has previously taken other jobs to support his farming hobby, including pressman/writer for The Recorder, and Ag Projects Coordinator for The Highland Center. He lives in Hightown with wife Michelle and son Ethan. In his spare time, he wishes he had more spare time, especially to ride his prized Harley-Davidson motorcycle. scott@amrmail.org

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