Fiddlers to flock to E'town in 2013

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City adds Old-Time Fiddlers Contest to summer 2013 lineup

By Marty Finley

Elizabethtown will welcome a well-established musical competition into its summer 2013 lineup.

Events Coordinator Sarah Vaughn announced Monday the Freeman Lake Park bandstand will play host to the 38th annual Official Kentucky State Championship Old-Time Fiddlers Contest on June 7-8.

“Just music for two days straight,” Vaughn told Elizabethtown City Council during its Monday work session, where she made the announcement.

According to coordinator Brent Miller, there will be 15 to 18 categories featuring numerous instruments, including the harmonica, banjo, flat-top guitar and fiddle. In all cases but the dulcimer, the winner of each category will be declared the year’s state champion, Miller said.

Stage manager Steve Hall is the son of the contest’s founder, Jodie Hall, and said they took 2012 off as organizers retooled their approach to the event. The contest has been held at Rough River State Resort Park for 35 years or longer, but Hall told the council that a move was necessitated by the remote location and the lack of hotels and roads. Hall said it is becoming much harder to hold events in areas with limited amenities.

“It was very difficult to move the contest from Rough River, and we delayed it until we simply had no choice,” Hall said in a news release. “At that point, we had to set aside our sentimentality, look at this as a business decision, and find a location which offered the absolute best opportunity to be successful, because we sure don’t want to do this again.”

Vaughn expressed her excitement in landing the competition, which she said has been in the negotiations for months.

“People from all over the country will be in Elizabethtown, along with local community members, to celebrate the history of old time fiddling and the tradition of simple, honest, and hardworking lives of the first rural farmers,” Vaughn said in the news release.

Mayor Tim Walker said the city has had success with concerts and musical performances before, particularly in the classic rock arena during the Summer Concert Series. But Walker said he wants to attract diverse styles and genres to the city.

Councilwoman Edna Berger seconded Walker’s welcome.

“We’re excited to have you here,” she said.

Miller said the contest has attracted players from several states, Canada and the United Kingdom. It has hosted local competitors as well as musicians who went on to greater acclaim, such as Alison Krauss, he said.

And it has a universal appeal, attracting seasoned musicians of 80 years or older as well as young children who are trying their hand at an instrument, Miller said.

Hall believes the break was needed but organizers are ready to fire the fiddles back up.

“We’ve got an idea where we want to go for it to be a great contest,” he said.

In other business:

  • Elizabethtown Public Works Superintendent Don Hill said the city is working on a plan to isolate its downtown water system, identify all valves and determine where there are deficiencies in the system. Once the valves and deficiencies are located, Hill said, a plan of action will be drafted. The announcement comes days after the city closed a portion of downtown for water main repairs. A water main leak was found near the intersection of West Dixie Avenue and Mulberry Street Thursday afternoon, leading to traffic disruption, detours and a geyser of water that shot several feet into the air.
  • Robert Bush, director of storm water management, said design is wrapping up on stormwater improvements on Poplar Drive, which are expected to help ease perpetual flooding during heavy rains. Bush said the city is acquiring property easements before it can move forward on construction. He said the plan should be a drastic improvement over the current system and will tie into other proposed projects in the area. City Engineer Scott Reynolds also briefed the council on a series of planned sanitary sewer overflow projects, all of which are in the design phase. Reynolds said three or four of the projects should see final designs early because they are easier projects that do not require easement acquisitions. The projects primarily target the Poplar Drive, Valley Drive, Hawkins Drive and Harvard Drive areas officials believe will ease overflows and upgrade a system that has eroded.

Marty Finley can be reached at (270) 505-1762 or mfinley@thenewsenterprise.com.