JEFFERSON — Fun, sun and the traditional music of Appalachia were the name of the game on July 24, during the Ashe County Arts Council’s Fiddler’s Fest. The family friendly, all-day event was created by arts council to provide an outlet for local musicians following a year of hindered live performances due to COVID-19.

“Our purpose of doing it, was to help local bands and musicians get back to live performances,” said Rebecca Williams program director of the Ashe County Arts Council. “We wanted to support the local music community by having a event where they could play.”

The Fiddler’s Fest — which was held in lieu of the annual Bluegrass and Old-time Fiddler’s Convention this year — was held at the Ashe County Park and saw performances from eight regional acts, such as the Cabin Creek Boys, Bryon Osborne and the Ashe Mountain Boys, Martha Spencer and Larry Sigmon and an outstanding opening performance by the Junior Appalachian Musicians Program’s (JAM) master band, the Ashe Mountain Ramblers.

“I’m very proud of them, they’ve come a long way. They have, in a lot of ways have started to surpass their teachers,” said Chris Testerman, a longtime instructor of the JAM Program. “It’s a good opportunity for the kids to be able to perform, see other musicians and maybe pick up a thing or two.”

Other musicians who performed during Saturday’s festivities were the Crooked Road Ramblers, Trish Kibly Fore & The Blue Ridge Wildcats, Cabin Creek Bluegrass and the Jeff Little Trio.

The talented crop of musicians performed at various times throughout the day, beginning around noon and continuing to 7:45 p.m. that afternoon. The festival also hosted a Live Radio Show with WKSK that morning, beginning just a little bit after 11 a.m.

“It’s great to see everyone, it’s great to be playing music. I missed everyone a lot this past year so its great to be out making some music,” said Martha Spencer, one of the musicians who performed throughout the day. “I grew up going to festivals like this, so I think it’s a really important thing. I work with JAM passing on the traditions, it’s a great thing. Just a real, live, cultural tradition we have here and I think its a real important thing to pass on.”

The Fiddler’s Fest saw an estimated 250 visitors stop by the event throughout the day, and raised around $2,000 which will benefit Ashe County’s Junior Appalachian Musicians Program.

Sponsors for the all day event included Blue Ridge Energy, Reeves DiVenere Wright Attorneys at Law, American Emergency Vehicles, The Ashe Civic Center, Scott Harris Guitar Shop, and Radio WKSK. The Ashe County Arts Council also expressed its appreciation to Ashe County Parks & Rec Department for allowing them to use the park’s grounds for their events.

“They maintain such a beautiful park out there,” said Williams. “They are so accommodating to us, they allow us to come out there to have a festival, or the fiddler’s convention, or the Friday nights in the park concerts, and they’re just wonderful to work with and so supportive of what we do.”

To learn more about the Ashe County Arts Council and its upcoming events visit ashecountyarts.org/.

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