I was lucky enough to catch the last day of the Fiddler's Grove Festival (Ole Time Fiddler's & Bluegrass Festival) in Union Grove, North Carolina. I happened to miss all of the clogging and fast-finger fiddling from the prior evening (this festival hosts the oldest Old Time Fiddler's contest in North America, continued for over 87 years by the Van Hoy Family), but now I know to plan a little better for next year's event. The last day seemed to be a mellow ending to what sounded like a weekend jamboree!
It is a family-friendly weekend involving camping, eating, and playing music for three days. Kids run around with instruments in their hands, sitting and playing out old folk tunes in various areas of the camp grounds. This is a learning haven for all ages of traditional American folk music - older folks pass down their knowledge of the music and their styles of playing to the younger generations. Being a "yankee" myself, the tradition of breaking out the guitar, banjo and fiddle are very foreign to me (as an Italian-American, we whip out an accordion and hand drums), however the connection with music is a universal emotion and it translates in every part of this country. A lot of these songs have been passed down through oral tradition, from generation to generation and it is obvious when simply reading through the festival's program; group names like The Cockman Family and The Trantham Family and The Ireland Family just show you that the music starts in the womb. A performance from the Trantham Family included a father and his three children, and the father himself grew up coming to Fiddler's Grove as a kid with his parents and siblings.
On my way out of the festival, I heard some tingy sounds of a banjo coming from The Old Barn, so I decided to take a peek. Here is a video of what I found - the walls covered with plaques from previous years' winners of the coveted "Fiddler Of The Festival" award and a priceless photo of Doc Watson tacked to one of the loft beams were an added bonus.
I'm looking forward to attending next year's festival, and this time I'll be sure to bring some clogging shoes and even maybe a set of playing spoons...I can't wait!