Augusta hosting W.Va. Open Fiddle and Banjo Contest

ELKINS — The Augusta Heritage Center of Davis & Elkins College welcomes musicians and spectators from across the region to Elkins City Park Saturday for the West Virginia Open Fiddle and Banjo Contest. The event is hosted in conjunction with the annual Augusta Festival scheduled throughout the day.

“The contest draws some of the most talented traditional musicians in West Virginia,” said Augusta Heritage Center Events Coordinator Becky Hill. “It’s truly a celebration of the music of this region that promotes pride within the local community for our shared cultural heritage.”

Registration for the contest begins at 10 a.m. at the Shelter Stage in Elkins City Park. As an “open” contest, participants from any state or region are welcome to enter and there is no registration fee to compete. The contest will start at 11 a.m. and run until all contestants have competed.

Three prizes will be awarded in fiddle, old-time banjo and bluegrass banjo, as well as a best senior musician prize for age 60 and older, and a best youth musician prize for age 15 and younger. Awards are $200 for first place, $100 for second place and $50 for third place in the fiddle and banjo contests.

The contest has its roots in the Mountain State Forest Festival dating back to the early 1930s. It was revived in 2007 when Augusta Heritage Center teamed up with the Randolph County Fair Association. In 2016 the contest was conducted as part of the Mountain State Forest Festival and last year it moved permanently to the Augusta Festival in Elkins City Park.

Sponsors for this year’s event are Smakula Fretted Instruments, Big Timber Brewing and several anonymous donors.

“These sponsors are working together to keep the West Virginia Open Fiddle and Banjo Contest tradition going and we are very grateful for their support,” Hill said.

In addition to the contest, the Augusta Festival features workshops, performances and a juried craft fair. Admission is free. That evening Augusta’s Summer Session concludes with a Mountain Stage Concert at 7:30 p.m. in Myles Center for the Arts Harper-McNeeley Auditorium. The live performance features special guest host Bil Lepp, country music legend Kathy Mattea, award winning bluegrass group Darin & Brooke Aldridge, West Virginia-based honky tonk group Blue Yonder, old-time multi-instrumentalist Joe Newberry and other special guests. Heard weekly on NPR stations across the country, Mountain Stage is produced by West Virginia Public Broadcasting and is celebrating its 35th year on the air. The concert will be recorded live and broadcast at a later date on the internationally syndicated radio program.

Tickets are $25 general admission and may be purchased by calling 304-637-1209, online at www.augustaheritagecenter.org or at the D&E Box Office in Myles Center for the Arts on the night of the show.

To learn more about the Augusta Heritage Center of Davis & Elkins College summer sessions, visit augustaheritagecenter.org or call 304-637-1209.

Programs offered by the Augusta Heritage Center of Davis & Elkins College are presented with financial support from the WV Division of Culture and History, and the National Endowment for the Arts, with approval from the WV Commission on the Arts and the West Virginia Humanities Council, a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Local support is provided by the Randolph County Commission.

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