Archive for Monday, August 29, 2011

Fiddlers, pickers fill South Park for state competition

The 31st Kansas State Fiddling and Picking Championships was held in Lawrence, Sunday,, August 28, 2011. If you weren’t there check out this audio/slideshow that features, fiddling, Shape Note singing, musician jam sessions and a contestant playing the Nyckelharpa.

August 29, 2011


Live music and the smoky smell of grilled food filled South Park during the 31st annual Kansas State Fiddling and Picking Championships on Sunday.

People of all ages came to watch the eight competitions and four concerts on two stages. In addition to the organized performances, groups of musicians played together away from the stage. Fiddles, mandolins, banjos and guitars were a common sight.

“The food is great, and South Park is a great place,” said Jerome Barnard, a Topeka resident who came with a friend to see Billy Spears and the Beer Bellies perform.

The festival is sponsored by the Americana Music Academy, 1419 Mass., to promote acoustic music in Lawrence.

“We see music as part of the community, something to do and not just watch,” said Gayle Sigurdson, the event coordinator.

Sigurdson has coordinated the event for the past three years and attended the event since it began in 1980.

Tricia Spencer, from Lawrence, has also attended most editions of the festival. As a child, her family came to watch her grandparents fiddle. She learned the instrument from her grandparents and has competed for the past decade. She hoped to win her first state championship on Sunday, a feat her grandfather accomplished more than 20 years ago.

While Sigurdson was busy running the event, her husband, Steve Mason talked to what seemed like everyone he ran into. He is a fixture in the local music scene: He owns a string-instrument repair shop, plays every instrument he can fix and has even won a few state championships himself. Mason has deep roots with acoustic music in Kansas and can recall Lawrence’s first fiddling competition in 1976. He said there was a hope for every county in the state to have qualifying events for a larger state championship, but that never happened.

“It became clear that if there was going to be a state championship, it had to be in Lawrence,” he said. “It’s not so much the musicians in Lawrence but more so the people with the organizational skills.”

What’s Mason’s favorite part of the festival? The camaraderie, he says.

“Learning to play music is like learning a language, and today you get to meet with people who speak that language and talk,” he said. “That’s what jamming is all about.”


Abdu Omar 6 years, 8 months ago

That was a great event today. Thanks to Gayle and everyone who worked so hard to make this a success. The judges were accurate in most cases and the musicians all should be awarded by a great competition. I will hope to be there next year and join in again in the music.

Gayle Sigurdson 6 years, 8 months ago

Thanks! Just one correction-Americana Music is just one of our great sponsors, Fiddling and Picking has been around for 31 years with the support of many. This year Free State Brewery and Blue Highways TV each sponsored a stage. Mandolin Cafe, Slimmer's Automotive and a host of others listed on our website all deserve thanks for their support. Thanks also to the musicians and fans who show up each year.

Christine Pennewell Davis 6 years, 8 months ago

I forgot about it and now I am kicking myself in the but, wanted to watch Billy.:(

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 8 months ago

This year's results don't appear to have been posted yet.

Chris Millspaugh 6 years, 8 months ago

link on the right side of the home page, says, "Past winners" the wording does need updated, but it will take you to a list of this years winners.

actually here is the direct link.

jenniflip 6 years, 8 months ago

I had a great time again this year! Thank you to all the people who work so hard to put this together. It's one of my favorite events that makes Lawrence such a great place to live! Great pics, too, LJWorld.

DB Ashton 6 years, 8 months ago

That's my gal, Mary B on bass. Wahoo!

pure_republication 6 years, 8 months ago

I am overseas and can only get news of my home town via the LJW online. I have been to this event in the past and I missed it this year. So enjoyed the pickin" and grinnin" I saw here! Enjoy it all!

sad_lawrencian 6 years, 8 months ago

Hey, it's better than the busker festival....

FlintlockRifle 6 years, 8 months ago

Hey, my kind of interment, to bad it didn't get more press time before Sunday, instead of the day after

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