ATHOL - Crisp fall air, a robust crowd and toes tapping to infectious mountain music characterized the treasured local tradition of Thurman's Fiddlers Jamboree held Saturday and Sunday.
The family-oriented festival, which has earned a spot in the hearts of folks from a wide region, featured a strong lineup of musicians plus workshops, games, and the rural standby known as "field pickin,' in which musicians wander in the field and jam with other musicians.
The event, held at the Thurman town recreation field, featured mountain music on Saturday, and both gospel and rural acoustic music Sunday afternoon and well into the evening hours.
Headliners at this year's event were the acclaimed Sara Milonovich, John Kirk & Trish Miller, and Nelson Rock & the Circle of Willis Band.
Both children and adults enjoyed dancing to the tunes, while others sat and tapped their toes.
Also, Jimmy Davis was on hand showing curious fiddlin' fans his huge collection of fiddles, banjos, guitars and mandolins.
Crafts were on display, including Sally Feihel's handmade soaps, and metal art crafted by a resident of Stony Creek. Janice Persons and her partner Leroy Salisbury sold fresh vegetables reaped from their home garden.
Members of the Thurman Emergency Medical Services conducted free blood-pressure checks.
The festival was launched with a hearty breakfast - served up by the local fire company - combined with some spontaneous fiddle jam sessions.
Saturday's lineup included the Warren County Ramblers, a local favorite, featuring Hoddy Ovitt on guitar and banjo, Jimmy Davis on fiddle, and Johnny Mosher on lead vocals, mandolin and guitar.
They were followed by the String Dusters, once nominated regionally as "Bluegrass Band of the Year." They played a wide range of styles, from hillbilly and primitive blues to cowboy and traditional rural American music.
At noon was the regionally acclaimed Nelson Rock & Circle of Willis band. Nelson Rock has performed at Mardi Gras in New Orleans alongside the Neville Brothers of Nashville fame. Also in the lineup were the Adirondack Fiddlers, regional favorites, followed by both the Food Stamp Band and Don Perkins & the Family Band.
The acclaimed, award-winning fiddler Sara Milonovich was onstage late Saturday afternoon, accompanied by John Kirk and Trish Miller, who are outstanding musicians renowned for their work.
Sunday included gospel acts including Marie Monroe and Kate Seeley. A community sing-along at 5 p.m. included dozens in the crowd vocalizing on old favorites.
Event volunteer Maria Ligon said Monday the Fiddlers Jamboree was gathering a loyal following, and has been growing steadily over the past 12 years. But the tradition runs deep in Thurman, as the Jamboree was built on the success of the Fiddlers' Roundup which was held at Toad Hill Farm for many years.
These festivals draw on the rural tradition of kitchen hops, or long jam sessions in which the musicians would play and family members and friends kicked off their shoes and danced the night away - much like what happened Saturday.