July 29, 2013
Over four decades have passed since the Rotary of the Jeffersons hosted its first fiddler’s convention in Ashe County.
The event started as a horse show in order to raise money for the construction of Ashe County Park. Eventually, the club started a musical event and never looked back.
“Once you go to it, you realize how much of a culture it is for a lot of the musicians and how important it is to them,” said Cameron Keziah, president of the Rotary.
And it is the culture that brings forth the memories by the people who have been around the festival for years.
“Some of my (favorite memories) that I’ve had over the years is seeing the youth grow up,” former Rotary President Josh Roten said.
With the money raised going toward the futures of Ashe County students, their involvement in the events stood out.
For Keziah, a key memory was having to run out to the parking lot to find people ready to perform on stage.
“Whether (the musicians) know each other or not they’re just sitting there and picking music,” he said. “It brings together everybody from different areas.”
Competitors are not only from North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia, fiddlers have driven out as far away as Texas and the Northeast.
The rules for the fiddler convention are unique. Original material is not played, nor are renditions of modern singles allowed.
“If you are coming out playing old time fiddle for instance, you need to play an old time song,” Roten said. “You can’t come out and play something that is currently a top 10 song on the pop charts.”
The event begins at 5 p.m. and continues at noon Saturday.
Tickets are $10 for one day or $15 for two days of entertainment. The money raised will go to the scholarship fund for high school seniors in Ashe County.
Of course, if you are a musician and you perform, you get your money back.
“That’s another way to encourage the competition people to perform regardless of how good they may be,” Keziah said.
Cash prizes to the best performers will be awarded.
“We’re going to be just a little over $3,000 in cash money for the event,” Roten said.
With this being the Rotary Club’s last year of hosting the convention, they are hoping to see a strong crowd at the park.
“I hope the county will show what they have shown in 43 years of us doing this, that they come out and show their support and help us do what we can for the county,” Keziah said.