ELKINS - The Augusta Heritage Center of Davis & Elkins College welcomes musicians and spectators from across the region to Elkins City Park for the West Virginia Open Fiddle and Banjo Contest on Saturday, August 12. This year, the contest will be hosted in conjunction with the annual Augusta Festival.
Registration begins at 10 a.m. at the Shelter Stage. The contest starts at 11 a.m. and continues until all contestants have competed. Cash prizes will be awarded in banjo and fiddle categories and there is no registration fee.
Organizers say the contest draws some of the most talented traditional musicians in West Virginia.
“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.
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. Last year, it was conducted as part of the Mountain State Forest Festival and this year it will be part of the annual Augusta Festival.
“We hope adding this event to our 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 and 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 $300 for first place, $200 for second place and $100 for third place in fiddle and banjo.
Sponsors for this year’s event are Smakula Fretted Instruments, The Delmonte Market & Market Creamery, Big Timber Brewing and several anonymous donors.
“These sponsors are working together to keep the tradition going and we are grateful for their support,” Hill said. “Make sure to stop by their businesses and thank them for their generosity.”
In addition to the contest, the Augusta Festival features workshops, performances and a juried craft fair in Elkins City Park. Admission is free. That evening Augusta’s summer sessions wrap up with a Mountain Stage Concert with Larry Groce in Myles Center for the Arts Harper-McNeeley Auditorium. Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award winner and folk icon Tom Paxton and Grammy winning singer-songwriter duo The Don Juans, featuring Don Henry and Jon Vezner, will headline the show. Rounding out the evening will be performances by Laurie Lewis & The Right Hands, Bill Kirchen, Cathy Fink & Marcy Marxer, and The Early Mays. General admission tickets are $25, and are available online and at the D&E Box Office.
The Augusta Heritage Center is home to significant collections of field recordings, oral histories, photographs, instruments and Appalachian art. To learn more, visit www.augustaheritagecenter.org or call the Augusta Heritage Center office at 304-637-1209.
A D&E center of excellence for more than 40 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.
Programs offered by the Augusta Heritage Center of Davis & Elkins College are presented with financial assistance from the West Virginia Division of Culture and History and the National Endowment for the Arts with approval from the West Virginia Commission on the Arts.
Related to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Davis & Elkins College is located in Elkins, 2 hours east of Charleston, 3 hours south of Pittsburgh and 4 hours west of Washington, D.C. For more information, please visit the College website at www.dewv.edu or call 304-637-1243.
Photo Caption: The West Virginia Open Fiddle and Banjo Contest will take place as part of the Augusta Festival Saturday, August 12 in Elkins City Park. Registration begins at 10 a.m. and the competition starts at 11 a.m. This is the first year the contest has been a part of the Augusta Festival. In 2016, musicians competed during the Mountain State Forest Festival.