The 20th Annual Downtown Branson Fiddle Festival to be held on August 23, 2008 promises to be an exciting event, with new features including a Celebrity Pie Contest and, for the first time, free admission to all performances.
The music begins at 10 a.m. and will continue into the evening. The contestants and performers will be playing the various styles of traditional music that early settlers brought with them to the Ozarks.
This year, there will be performances all day long on the street corners in Historic Downtown Branson along with sidewalk sales and, of course, small town Main Street shopping. Just down the street, the Branson Landing
Town Square will host the competition, returning the contest to its longtime home on the banks of Lake Taneycomo.
In addition to contestants from around the country, there will be guest appearances by some of Branson’s best performers, including some who competed as youngsters in earlier Branson fiddle contests.
The new Celebrity Pie Contest will bring out some of the finest cooks among Branson’s celebrities. Mayor Raeanne Presley and Dee Dee Lennon of the Lennon Sisters have already signed on. Downtown restaurant owners will judge the pies.
For the first time, this will be a free festival, thanks to the many generous sponsors.
The fiddle festival is an important tradition in Branson, said Steve Hartley, owner of Dick’s 5 & 10 in downtown Branson. “It honors the area’s heritage, and is enjoyed by residents and visitors alike,” Hartley said. “When people think of Branson, they think of these kinds of events, the down-homey type of thing,” Hartley said. “Many places have lost that.”
Mary Jane Rice, the receptionist at the Branson/Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce
, said she gets a lot of calls about the Fiddle Festival every year. “People call from all over, but mostly from out in the rural areas within about 100 miles of here,” Rice said. “A lot of folks just like to get out and play and meet up with people who have a common interest in playing the fiddle. And the competition for young people coming up is a big part of it.”
Marc Williams, one of the owners of Branson Landing, said he’s pleased that Branson Landing is one of the hosts of the Fiddle Festival. “This festival represents the Ozarks Americana that’s such an important part of our heritage,” Williams said.
Competition will be in five divisions: ages nine and younger, age 10 through 16, age 60 and older, an open category for any age and the new “Cross Tuning” category. Cross tuning refers to a way of tuning the fiddle that allows it to mimic the drone of the bagpipe, a style of playing once very popular at the old time dances. Fiddles were originally brought to the Ozarks by early settlers because they were easily portable yet were quite loud and suited for dance music.
More than $4,000 in cash and prizes will be awarded. The Fiddle Festival is being presented through the cooperation of organizations including the Downtown Branson Main Street Association
, the Historic Downtown Branson Business Owners, the Branson/Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce, Branson Landing and the City of Branson.
For information about entering, attending, or sponsorship of the event, please contact the Downtown Branson Main Street Association at 417-334-1548 or http://www.downtownbranson.org/