DOBSON — The fourth Annual Surry Old Time Fiddlers Convention opened with a square dance on Friday night at Surry Community College drawing on the county’s old time music and dance traditions with an event organized by musicians for musicians and dancers.
Convention organization committee spokesperson Buck Buckner said featured bands for the first night included the Zephyr Lightening Bolts, Slate Mountain Ramblers and the Mountain Park Old Time Band. He said all four of the conventions have been held at the college’s Dobson campus. He said the event came about when the Surry County Tourism Committee and others were looking for a cultural event that could be staged in between other seasonal events.
“I just saw an opportunity and made a suggestion,” said Buckner, who explained the area has a historic dance community with a tradition of weekend dances. “We try to bring all the dance regulars and bands together for an extended, big community festival. It is great to see the younger generation come out and play the music and dance.” Buckner also praised the support of Surry County Manager Chris Knopf.
Buckner said signature sponsors for the event include the Dobson Tourism Development Authority, Yadkin Valley Chamber of Commerce-Dobson Division, Surry Community College and the Surry County Tourism Development Authority. The event continued Saturday with adult and youth competitions all day with $5,000 in prizes and ribbons awarded. Results of the competition were not available Saturday night, but will be published later this week.
Buckner’s daughter, Joanna (Buckner) Whitney, said she and her family live in Emmaus, Penn. She was approached by local residents there who had found out where she was from and explained they would like advice on organizing a “hoedown” community fundraiser. She told them she would be glad to help.
“No one had heard of what a cake walk was,” recalled Whitney. “They were all about it once they caught on. Another hoedown is scheduled this year.”
Musician and Organization Committee member Tammy Sawyer indicated two strengths of the convention. She said in addition to being fun, the event helps promote, preserve and honor tradition native to Surry County.
“This is different than other conventions. It’s a collaboration between the agencies and community in Surry County and Dobson. Musicians help organize it with the support of all our partners who provide location, money and publicity. We know how to run a festival so musicians and dancers will like it. That’s why it had been this successful right away.”
She said Surry County is unique for its concentration of high-quality music and tradition that has been “kept like it was.” Sawyer stressed the convention is not a fundraiser but is a “friend-raiser” to support and encourage traditions.
Saturday, activities were scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. with registration. Adult and youth fiddle, banjo, guitar, bass, dancing and band competitions were held. An adult band contest was also scheduled following the band contest. Free workshops included instruction in fiddle, banjo, guitar and dance and were held in the Reeves Building. Luthier displays, musical jamming and cake walks were also held as part of the event. Interested persons may obtain more information on the convention at www.surryoldtime.com.
Reach David Broyles at firstname.lastname@example.org or 719-1952.