The Old Time Fiddler's Conventionby Fabian G. Franklin
In 1866 a local man returned home from the Civil War was accused of murdering a woman named Laura Foster. The man's name was Tom Dooley and his story has gained its place in history as North Carolina's best known murder ballad. The story has been passed down for generations through local families of the Yadkin Valley area and the subsequent trial and execution were highly popularized in a song recorded by The Kingston Trio called The Ballad Of Tom Dooley
The final resting place of Laura Foster is on a farm owned by the Jones family in beautiful Yadkin Valley off North Carolina byway 268. Today, the farm is host to the Historic Happy Valley Old-Time Fiddler's Convention. The festival began as a way to for neighbors to gather and celebrate their rich mountain heritage of Appalachian songs in music and dance. As the community offered its staggering support of these activities, the festival has grown into a celebration offering entertainment, wonderful food and fun activities for the whole family.
One of the attractions at the event are local craftsmen who design, build, and sell musical instruments. Everything from dulcimers to mountain banjos, guitars and hand made fiddles might be ordered or purchased there. Tents offer live demonstrations of the fine bluegrass music wrought by these handsomely crafted instruments.
This three day event takes place each year from August 31st to September 2nd on the Jones family farm. Contributors and spectators alike are invited to camp for a fee of 10$ per night.
The one time entry fee is also 10$. This year wrist bands were given out for those not wishing to camp so that they might return the next day at no additional charge. Friday, August 31st had a Clogging and Flatfoot dance competition with single contestants and local group competitions ending in a community dance and Jam session.
Saturday's events included an Old Time fiddle and band competition, Twin fiddle competition, Bluegrass fiddle and Bluegrass band competition, a children's tractor race, a tour of Lara Foster's grave, a rubber duck derby race in the Yadkin river, individual instrument competition including dulcimer, fiddle, guitar, mandolin, banjo and upright bass with contestants from as far away as Holland.
Add to all this mix delicious country cooking by the many vendors, mountain souvenirs, toys and of course, the obligatory Old Time Fiddler's Convention tee shirt and recording sales and you have got yourself a whopping good time with lots of fun and interesting ways to spend time with the family. Sunday admission is free for the Gospel Homecoming and some just fantastic gospel music is offered up in songs of joy and praise.
I attended this shin dig Saturday, September 2nd and spoke with some of the craftsmen and performers as well as enjoyed some of the great food and wonderful entertainment. My daughter and her boyfriend particularly enjoyed the hayride and the homemade lemonade. I am looking forward to the Gospel Homecoming today as I plan to return to the beautiful foothills of the Appalachians to enjoy more of the same. I highly encourage those of you who have not experienced this great treat to come to North Carolina to visit and share a few days of good wholesome fun, food and entertainment with us.