Toe-tappin' under the tent

Fiddlers convention returns for 10th year
Aug. 30, 2014 @ 04:18 PM

It’s a festival made for sitting still, other than tapping toes.

Many other summer festivals offer distractions galore, from food booths to children’s games and booth after booth of unrelated crafts for sale, whatever the festival’s featured event may be.

But at the Historic Happy Valley Old-time Fiddlers’ Convention, it’s all about the music. There is some food, there are a few non-musical things for sale, there are antique tractors, and there’s a children’s area, but if you don’t come to sit and listen to the music, you won’t have much to do.

That may be why so many of the people there seem to be either musicians, wives or husbands of musicians, parents of musicians or friends who tagged along with musicians’ families. Some of the musicians come to participate in the Saturday competitions, but many come just to join in jam sessions that take place here and there around the field and campground.

Carol Sutton of Asheville, making her first-ever visit to the event Saturday, said she and friend Valerie Harvey of Lenoir were there in part because of their musician husbands.

“You’ve heard of football widows? We’re music widows,” she said.

But Sutton said she enjoys the country atmosphere and Americana of this kind of event.

For many of those attending, Happy Valley is just one in a never-ending series of weekend get-togethers with an extended second family. William and Janet Purcell of Deep Gap, whose 12-year-old son, Liam, was there to play guitar, said that on the “almost every weekend” trips they have made good

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friends they never otherwise would have met.

“We’re all from different places,” William Purcell said, “but we see each other on weekends.”

Sitting under a tent adjacent to the Purcells’, Debra Greer of Jefferson chimed in.

“You look forward to every weekend,” she said. “We made our best friends through this.”