INTERNATIONAL PEACE GARDENâ€”An appreciation for old-time, toe-tapping music brought Americans and Canadians together for an international competition here this weekend.
The 36th annual International Old-Time Fiddlers Contest drew about 30 contestants, ranging in age from elementary school to senior citizens.
Tim Wollenzien, director of the International Music Camp, said the camp has hosted the event for so many years because the art of fiddling has long been part of the culture of this part of the world.
â€œI think that there are a lot of people who enjoy this kind of music, whether itâ€™s participating in making it or listening to it,â€ he said. â€œItâ€™s traditional, and yet it takes a lot of skill. The nice thing is you can be successful at a young age and can continue to enjoy it and do well with it in old age.â€
He taught himself to play and has picked up different techniques throughout the years. Heâ€™s competed in the contest at the Peace Garden since it began.
â€œYou learn new things every time you get here and meet different people,â€ Page said. â€œItâ€™s enjoyable, you know. Thatâ€™s what I come for.â€
John Quibell of Fargo brought his 6-year-old son Tristan to compete in the small fry division.
â€œItâ€™s fun. I like to learn stuff, and that makes it fun,â€ Tristan said of why he likes to play fiddle.
The contest began Saturday morning and will go into the evening. Judges score contestants based on technical ability, rhythm, tone quality and intonation. All songs need to be of â€œdanceable quality.â€
To keep the contest objective, judgesÂ are tucked away in another room and only allowed to hear the music. They do not know who played each song.
Contestants play a hoedown, a waltz and a selection of his or her choice.
Judge Kay Werre of Fullerton, N.D., has been a serious fiddler for 32 years and enjoys being part of the contest.
â€œItâ€™s a good, clean form of entertainment,â€ she said. â€œItâ€™s a historical type of music that would just die out if people didnâ€™t keep the contests going to keep others interested in playing the music.â€
To help keep that interest alive, the weekend included workshops to provide instruction in beginning fiddle, Canadian old-time fiddle and bluegrass fiddle.
â€œItâ€™s fun to play so many different styles. You can learn about different countries through the styles of their music,â€ she said. â€œThereâ€™s just a real good energy of playing fiddle for dance â€¦ thatâ€™s mostly what the fiddle style was for, for people dancing. So, itâ€™s just really a fun thing to do and gets a lot of people toe tapping.â€
The weekend of events provides fiddle fans with a place to share their love for the music, Wollenzien said.
â€œItâ€™s great to see the energy and excitement that the teenagers and young children are bringing to fiddling and the fiddling music,â€ he said. â€œItâ€™s promising that the art will continue and that people will want to keep playing and making music together.â€
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