Fiddlers' convention to mark decade of celebrating heritage
This weekend, campsites will dot the Yadkin River with firelight, and old-time and bluegrass music will echo across Happy Valley.
The 10th annual Historic Happy Valley Old-Time Fiddlers’ Convention starts Friday evening and runs through Sunday, expected to bring thousands to the field of the convention site to celebrate the heritage and culture of old-time and bluegrass music.
For the 10-year benchmark, “We’re trying to make it a little different and special,” said organizer Tony Deal, who’s been helping put the event together since the beginning.
The three-day festival of traditional mountain music will feature live performances, storytelling and more. It starts with free music Friday at 6:30 p.m. Admission is $10 Saturday, which features contests for individual musicians and bands starting at 10 a.m. in categories from the guitar and banjo to the twin fiddle and flatfoot dance, and also $10 on Sunday, which features music by nine bands starting at 10 a.m.
Deal said the event has grown a little each year, but organizers don’t want it to turn into a huge music festival like Merlefest, an annual four-day event in Wilkesboro that draws as many as 80,000 people.
These days, people even show up a day early to set up camp, Deal said.
“To me, it’s almost amazing that something like this has gone on for 10 years without having a major organization to back it,” Deal said.
Bob Kogut, a Lenoir-based fiddle maker and player who also helped organize the convention from the beginning, said the event is a “great chance not only for instrument makers to get in contact with players but also with each other.”
Kogut says he’s looking forward to comparing notes and sharing secrets with other instrument makers at the convention, but also playing a little fiddle himself, socialize, trade tips and learn new songs.
One of the features on Sunday is the Wayne Henderson Guitar Extravaganza, where Henderson, a famed guitar maker, will take the stage with other guitar makers and musicians, all playing guitars made by Henderson.
Henderson, known for making guitars for artists like Eric Clapton, will join Kogut and other instrument makers at the festival, sharing techniques and working to get younger people interested in making instruments.
“I just love the homecoming of all the musicians, love that Wayne Henderson is going to be there this year,” said
Laura Boosinger, a performer slated to play Sunday, said she loves "the whole idea of Happy Valley,” from the region's folklore and music to its agricultural history. Boosinger all said one of the greatest things about the convention is the family-friendly atmosphere.
“It’s such a generational activity,” Boodinger said. “This is one of those kinds of things that brings multiple generations together…it’s really sort of a throwback in our culture – it’s so inclusive.”
BANDS PLAYING SUNDAY
10 a.m. The Neighbors
10:50 Zephyr Lightening Bolts
11:40 Zoe and Cloyd (Red June)
12:30 p.m. Fiddling Tim Smith/ Eric Ellis
1:20 Strictly Clean and Decent
2:10 Harris Brothers
3:00 Wayne Henderson Guitar Extravaganza with Uwe Kruger, Steve Lewis, Reggie Harris, Steve Kilby, Zeb Snyder, Paddy Crouch, Eric Ellis.
3:50 Laura Boosinger