DOBSON — The tunes of old time music could be heard from afar, as musicians flocked to Surry Community College for an annual Old Time Fiddlers Convention.
The Yadkin Valley Chamber of Commerce teams with the college and the Surry County and Dobson Tourism Development Authorities to make the event possible, according to chamber president Myra Combs.
Combs said a steering committee consisting of members from each organization and local musicians plans the event every year. This year’s event was the seventh of its kind.
The convention is a two-day event, with dancing and other festivities opening the annual tradition on Friday evening. Combs said competitions are held on Saturday. Additionally, there were workshops available ranging from instrumental lessons to flat-foot dancing.
Competitions included categories for various instruments and a competition for bands. Children ages 15 years old and younger were invited to participate in the youth competition.
Musicians made there way on stage at their leisure to perform once the competition kicked off shortly before noon Saturday.
Master of ceremonies Harold Mitchell explained judges were seated behind a wall of quilts. Thus, they were not able to see the people they were judging. The judges knew only the number of the performer, cutting out any possibility of an official being partial to one musician or another.
Cash prizes were awarded to all top finishers. Those prizes ranged from $600 for the best band to $35 for youth winners.
Combs said there were about 125 musicians performing solo at the convention, and more than 20 bands would try their abilities on stage. Musicians generally are from Surry County or surrounding areas, with an average commute of 30 to 45 miles.
The fiddlers convention isn’t a money-maker, however, said Combs.
“We make very little money at this event. That’s not what it’s about,” explained Combs.
“It’s about bringing the community together in celebration of our area’s heritage and traditions.”
Combs gestured at the many quilts draped along the walls of a gymnasium at the college before highlighting another tradition celebrated at the event.
She said a quilt made by local Christene Mason would be raffled to help cover the costs of the event.
The heritage of which Combs spoke was alive and well as musicians “jammed” in hallways, warmed up in bleachers and took to the stage in hopes of being named one of the Surry Old Time Fiddlers Convention’s top musicians.
A future edition of The News will feature the winners of the convention.
Andy is a staff writer and may be reached at 415-4698.