ATHOL - A treasured local tradition of rousing mountain music is coming up this weekend, as Thurman's Fiddlers Jamboree is presented for two full days, Saturday and Sunday Sept. 11 and 12 at the Thurman town recreation field.
Headliners at this year's event are the acclaimed Sara Milonovich, John Kirk & Trish Miller, and Nelson Rock & the Circle of Willis Band, event organizer Jim Ligon said.
"There's a lot of advance interest in this year's festival - we're hearing from all over the Northeast and mid-Atlantic regions," he said. "We have some excellent musicians performing this year."
The family-oriented festival, which has earned a spot in the hearts of folks from a wide region, features a strong lineup of musicians plus food, crafts, workshops, games, round and square dancing, and even the activity known as "field pickin'."
In this rural tradition, musicians wander out in the field and jam with other musicians as they wish, far enough away not to interfere the bands playing onstage either playing along with their music, or working on one's own tunes. Then if this impromptu group's jamming sounds real good, Ligon said, they are welcome to get onstage and perform a couple of tunes.
The event features mountain music from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday, and both gospel and rural acoustic music Sunday from noon well into the evening hours.
There will likely be square dancing lessons for adults and children, and Jimmy Davis will be on hand with his huge collection of fiddles, banjos, guitars and mandolin, Ligon said Monday.
Crafts to be on display represent traditional skills, including crocheting, knitting and soapmaking and metal art.
Admission, Ligon said, will be easy on the wallet, with the charge only $7 for Saturday, and free-will donations collected Sunday for the Gospel events, he said.
The festival is launched with a hearty breakfast - served up by the local fire company - combined with some spontaneous fiddle jam sessions over two hours. This country breakfast, with all the fixings, is a mere $5 for adults and $3 for children.
Saturday's lineup onstage begins at 10 a.m. with 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're followed at 11 a.m. by the String Dusters, once nominated regionally as "Bluegrass Band of the Year." They play a wide range of styles, from hillbilly and primitive blues to cowboy and traditional rural American music.
At noon is the regionally acclaimed Nelson Rock & Circle of Willis band. Known as the"Mad Fiddler," Nelson Rock has at Mardi Gras in New Orleans beside performed with the Neville Brothers of Nashville fame.
At 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. the Adirondack Fiddlers, regional favorites, will be onstage, are onstage, followed by both the Food Stamp Band and Don Perkins & the Family Band at 2 p.m. and Nelson Rock performing a second set at 4 p.m.
The acclaimed, award-winning fiddler Sara Milonovich will be onstage at 5 p.m., accompanied by John Kirk and Trish Miller, who are outstanding musicians renowned for their work, event publicist Perky Granger said Monday.
Don Perkins and his group follow at 6:30 p.m. Open mic jam sessions may occur spontaneously afterwards.
Sunday includes gospel and mountain-music groups onstage from noon to the Jamboree's closing at 7 p.m. or so.
Marie Monroe starts off the lineup at noon, followed by the Jim Davis Band at 1 :15, Hoddy Ovitt at 2:30 p.m., Kate Seeley at 3:45 p.m., a community sing-along at 5 p.m., and wrapping up with Jim Davis and friends at 6 p.m.
Camping is available at various local campgrounds, plus various Bed and Breakfast accommodations are available in Warrensburg or right in Thurman at the Glen Lodge & Market north of Warrensburg on state Rte. 28.
Jamboree participants are urged to bring folding chairs and jackets, as nights can be cool. Tents will be on hand so the festivities can continue regardless of rain.
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 would kick their shoes off and dance the night away. This is real mountain music with deep roots here in Thurman, Ligon said.