When people say the air is vibrating, they usually mean that there is a great feeling of tension or anticipation. But when dozens of fiddlers gather in Westminster for a convention, that can be a good thing.
The Deer Creek Fiddlers Convention is set for Sunday, June 2, and will run most of the day, between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m., at the Carroll County Farm Museum, at 500 S. Center St. in Westminster.
Tickets are $12 per person, or $10 for seniors 65 and older, students and teenagers. Children 12 and younger are free. Tickets are available at the gate, by calling 410-857-2771 or by visiting www.commongroundonthehill.org/tix_dcfc.
Bluegrass, old-time and Celtic music, songwriting, and clog dancing take center stage at the festival, which has made its home in Carroll County for more than 20 years and is now produced by Common Ground on the Hill.
It’s a competition, but it’s also a meeting space for musicians to play together and for the public to come across the art form and all of the tradition and pure entertainment is brings with it.
“With the current resurgence of interest in roots-style music, the Deer Creek Fiddlers’ Convention provides a cross-generational experience. Musicians move between impromptu groups formed under trees across the Farm Museum grounds in jam sessions known as ‘shade tree picking,’ ” according to a news release from Common Ground.
Past Judge Jo Morrison, harpist with the Celtic duo Port Righ, said in the release, “One of the great things about the Deer Creek Fiddle Festival is the laid-back atmosphere of the entire event, which allows for all kinds of small sessions and jams to spring up mixing and matching all genres of music. If you wander the grounds, you can find a wide variety of great things to listen to, and you'd be welcome to join in if you felt so inclined. There's nothing quite like it.”
The day’s events also include a juried arts and crafts fair, a southern Appalachian clog dancing competition, food for purchase, and a children’s area.
The prizes for winners include more chances to seek their audience, whether that’s through a main-stage performance at the Gettysburg Bluegrass Festival in Pennsylvania on Aug. 15 or a performance at the Common Ground on the Hill Festival in Westminster on July 13.
Additional goodies include cash prizes totaling $3,000, instruments including a guitar and a mandolin from Eastman Instruments, a Gold Tone banjo, a Musilia P2 violin case, and the Headway “The Band” Violin Pickup System — or tuition coverage during the Common Ground on the Hill Traditions Weeks.
Judges are drawn from the heart of the bluegrass, Celtic and southern Appalachian communities of the Baltimore-Washington area, according to the release. Current judges include Bluegrass Country Foundation board member and former president of the DC Bluegrass Union Randy Barrett, and veteran bluegrass and roots musician Alexander Mitchell of Walkersville.
“Over the years, the contest has been a proving ground for some of the best musicians around. You owe it to yourself to come out and hear them,” Barrett said in the release.
For those who want to compete, registration can be done online, but there is also on-site competition registration from 9 to 10:30 a.m. The competition begins at 10:30 a.m.