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Open Fiddle & Banjo Contest welcomes participants

Submitted photo Musicians from across the region will compete in the West Virginia Open Fiddle and Banjo Contest Saturday, July 27, as part of the Augusta Festival in Elkins City Park. Registration begins at 10 a.m. at the Shelter Stage and the contest starts at 11 a.m. Various prizes will be awarded.

ELKINS — The Augusta Heritage Center of Davis & Elkins College will welcome musicians and spectators from across the region to the West Virginia Open Fiddle and Banjo Contest on Saturday. The traditional event will be hosted as part of the Augusta Festival in Elkins City Park.

“The contest draws some of the most talented traditional musicians in West Virginia as it celebrates the music of this region and promotes pride within the local community for our shared cultural heritage,” said Becky Hill, events coordinator for Augusta Heritage Center.

Registration for the contest begins at 10 a.m. at the Shelter Stage in Elkins City Park. The contest will start at 11 a.m. and run until all contestants have competed. There is no registration fee. Cash prizes will be awarded in Old-Time Banjo, Bluegrass Banjo and Fiddle categories.

The contest has its roots in the Mountain State Forest Festival, dating back to the early 1930s. It was revived in 2007 when the Augusta Heritage Center teamed up with the Randolph County Fair Association. For the last three years, it has been part of the annual Augusta Festival.

“We hope that having this event as part of the Augusta Festival will attract participants and spectators from all over, and that it can be part of our annual celebration, carrying the tradition on for years to come,” Hill said.

As an “open” contest, participants from any state or region are welcome to enter. Three prizes will be awarded in fiddle, clawhammer 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 fiddle and banjo.

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

“These sponsors are working together to keep the tradition going and we are very grateful for their support,” said Hill.

A Center of Excellence for more than 45 years, the Augusta Heritage Center of Davis & Elkins College offers several week-long programs featuring instruction in many traditions of music, dance, craft and folklore. Concerts, dances, a summer festival and other heritage arts events are part of the Augusta experience. The Augusta Heritage Center is also home to significant collections of field recordings, oral histories, photographs, instruments and Appalachian art.

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

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