Music festival draws competitors from five states, audience as far away as New York

Competitors in the Mississippi Bluegrass Competitions and the Down From the Hills Heritage Music Festival ranged from young to old and came from five different states to compete.

Competitors in the Mississippi Bluegrass Competitions and the Down From the Hills Heritage Music Festival ranged from young to old and came from five different states to compete.

Competitors from Illinois, Tennessee, Alabama, Arkansas and Mississippi gathered at the Union County Fairgrounds Saturday for the 4th Mississippi Bluegrass Competitions and the 12the Down From the Hills Heritage Music Festival. There were 71 individual competitors and seven bands, and the sounds of Mississippi’s old-time music resounded throughout the fairgrounds.
“This was one of our largest competitions,” said Jill Smith, director of the Union County Heritage Museum and event coordinator, “and there were more youth competitors this year, which is the thing we wanted to happen. Carrying this music on is one of the reasons we host this festival. Giving a venue for this type of music brought listeners from Louisiana, New York, Illinois, Tennessee, Arkansas and throughout Mississippi, and that’s another reason we do this,” she said.
Youths as young as five years old were on that stage playing instruments, as in the case of a beginning fiddler, Jediadiah Dewebber, who played his rendition of “Bile Them Cabbage Down.” He won second in that competition as Autumn Chestang took first place in Beginning Fiddle.
In the Apprentice Fiddler Category, ages 11 to age 15, seven youths played amazingly good performance, making it difficult for the four judges who were pressed to make the difficult decisions for the event. They were Ken Goodrich of Troy, Joe Garrett of Tippah County, Aaron Russell of Pontotoc County and Kay Bain, WTVA’s anchor and long-time performer for WTVA’s Mornin’ Show. “We were saddened that our judge for the past three years, Jake Landers, became seriously ill Saturday morning and had to return home to Alabama with the other judge who drove him home. This ran us short of judges, and we are grateful to Aaron and Kay to step up and help with this,” Smith said.
The sounds of Mule Skinner Blues and many other old-time favorites from both the shade tree pickers and from the stage made for a nice event even if it was a rainy day, and the Pony Pull and the Piece Makers Quilt Show gave visitors a chance to do other things if they wanted to between competitions.
“I can’t say thank you enough to the volunteers and Stanley Wise and Bethany Dalton who also help coordinate the event. Without them, this could not happen. The people who help fund the event – the Mississippi Arts Commission, City of New Albany and Union County Board of Supervisors, The Union County Fair Board, BNA Bank, Toyota and Holiday Inn Express are all appreciated for their help in making this possible,” Smith said.
All the winners in the e vent will be posted on the website www.mississippi fiddlers.com. First place winners and Mississippi’s new Bluegrass Champions are:
Bluegrass Band – Fast Forward from Hartsville, Tenn.;
Old Time Fiddler – Wayne Jerrolds, Savannah, Tenn.;
Senior Fiddle in 55 and under – Tyler White, Rienzi, Miss. (Tyler has won the youth competition prior to this);
Apprentice Fiddle – Cara DiGiovanni, Greenbrier, Tenn.;
Beginning Fiddle – Autumn Chestang, McIntosh, Tenn.;
Apprentice Banjo – Grayson Phillips, Camden, Tenn.
Senior Banjo – Greg Blaylock – Dickson, Tenn.
Apprentice Guitar – Ivy Phillips – Chapmansboro, Tenn.
Senior Guitar – Fred Duggin, Masonwood Lane, Tenn.
Apprentice Dobro – Ivy Phillips , Chapmansboro, Tenn.
Senior Dobro –John Bellan, Ashland City, Tenn.
Beginner Mandolin – Autumn Chestang, McIntosh, Ala.
Apprentice Mandolin Ivy Phillips, Chapmansboro, Tenn.
Senior Mandolin – Spanky Chestang, McIntosh, Ala.

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