The Foothills Arts Council welcomes the Elkin Valley Fiddlers as an associate member of the nonprofit organization.
On May 4, the group is planning an old time music jam and contra dance, but it is a full-fledged fiddlers’ convention by the Yadkin River that the group plans for next year.
Group founder Barry Carlton of Elkin has years of experience as a musician participating in fiddlers’ conventions.
“I have seen the excitement and energy that an event of this type can bring to a town,” Carlton said on Monday. “I had an epiphany that Elkin with all of its many hard-working, civic-minded volunteers and old time, friendly, down home charm would be the perfect place to hold a festival of our own.”
The event, Elkin Valley Fiddlers By The River, will be on a small scale this year. The steering committee is in the process of raising money and ironing out the plans for a day of old time music in Crater Park. Musicians will be set up in the park and the public is invited to walk around and enjoy the jamming.
“Crater Park located beside our beautiful river and so close to historic downtown would be the perfect place to start an old time fiddlers’ convention of our own,” Carlton said.
The group sees the location and time of year as ideal for bringing this event to Elkin.
“I think whenever good music is involved, people just naturally have a great time,” Elkin Mayor Lestine Hutchens said. “I am happy to see an event occurring near the river so that the place will add it own special ambiance. I hope it’s the start of regular musical events at the river.”
The steering committee consists of Carlton, Caroline and David Blackmon, Bill Blackley, Erik Dahlager, Cory Myers, Charlotte Reynolds, Nancy Gould, Leighanne Wright, and Cynthia Grant as the executive director.
“This new musical endeavor builds upon the arts council’s efforts to enrich the lives of Yadkin Valley residents and visitors,” Eris Ball, president of the Foothills Arts Council board, said. “We envision the Elkin Valley Fiddlers By the River event will grow and gain popularity, making Elkin an even more artful destination with music to support the existing wine industry and trail system.”
A contra/square dance will be held that evening at The Liberty, 222 E. Main St., from 7-10:30 p.m. Beginners get a quick lesson at 6:30 p.m. Similar is a square dance, the contra dance will feature music by The Fiddler’s Wife — David Blackmon and Bob Kogut on fiddles, Caroline Blackmon on guitar, and Roberta Kogut calling.
“Contra dancing is fun and easy to learn,” Roberta Kogut said. “If you can walk, you can contra dance. Its roots are the same as square dancing, originating in Europe and coming over with our founding fathers and mothers. It was one of the main forms of entertainment during the Revolutionary and Civil War periods.”
Beginners will get a lesson at 6:30 p.m. and then the dance starts at 7. You do not need a partner to participate and it is a family-friendly activity. The group is asking for a $5 donation at-the-door and light refreshments will be available.
Volunteers are needed to fundraise, distribute flyers, help with parking for the event and clean-up. Anyone interested in volunteering with Elkin Valley Fiddlers is asked to call the Foothills Arts Council, 835-2025, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Leighanne Martin Wright is the executive director of the Foothills Arts Council.