Old Time Fiddlers Association offers monthly jam sessions

| Saturday, May 11, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Back in the days of old America, you could be assured that every social gathering featured a fiddle player, providing the treasure of real bluegrass music to those who gathered to enjoy time together.

Thanks to the members of the Old Time Fiddlers Association, the sounds and sights of good old bluegrass music and fiddle playing can be enjoyed every third Sunday of the month through December at their own building at the Fayette County Fairgrounds.

Although the group has been in existence since the 1970s, they are marking their silver anniversary at the fairgrounds site.

“The Fiddlers have met at the Fayette County Fairgrounds since May 1988; hence the ‘25th anniversary' this month of having our own building,” OTF president Bob Ritenour said. “We have always had an excellent rapport with the Fayette County Fair Board over the years, and they continue to work with us in providing a safe, secure place to hold our jams.”

The “jams” started casually in the early 1970s when local fiddlers met at Strickler's Barn in Fayette City and Irishtown, which is a picnic area in the Dunbar area, going back and forth between sites, which eventually led to the birth of the organization.

“A group of fiddlers met at Strickler's Barn, Fayette City, Pa., in May 1972 for a contest, and from that the OTF of PA was born,” board secretary Lynn Ritenour said. “In July 1972 the first jamboree-style program was held at Strickler's Barn with 32 members and approximately 32 people in the audience. The Old Time Fiddlers of PA has grown from that group of 32 to presently over 300 members.”

Everyone is welcome to come and listen, take part in the entertainment or both as the group encourages new faces to come and enjoy the good old toe-tapping fun.

“A typical day at the jamboree features 25 acts, including singles, duets and group performers, playing anything from the fiddle to guitars, to accordions, to dulcimers,” Lynn Ritenour said.

“There are no restrictions on what type of music is played. Due to time constraints, nonmembers may perform one song, single acts may perform two songs, and groups can do three songs. A musician group consisting of Vernon Eberhart, Ron Egnot, Eric Harvey, Paul Houser and Chuck Rhodes are on stage throughout the jam and back up any acts that need them.”

The association is always looking for members, and a yearly membership fee is only $5.

“We encourage young people to become members and to attend and participate,” board member Cindy Moag said. “We'd love to see more younger people get involved to keep the tradition going.”

The “jams” also feature food and raffles.

“Come on out and join us for an afternoon of wonderful music, delicious food, heartfelt laughter and great fellowship,” Lynn Ritenour said.

For more information, contact the president at 724-963-6693 or at bob1024@verizon.net.

The association's building is located at the fairgrounds at 120 Pechin Road, Dunbar.

Marilyn Forbes is a freelance writer.

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