The next generation of Old-Time musicians competed Saturday at the Andy Griffith Museum theater.
The young musicians were divided into two age groups: 5 to 12 years old and 13 to 18 years old, and competed for honors in fiddle, guitar, banjo, dance and vocal with an “other” category that included winners in mandolin, duets, autoharp and twin fiddle.
“We have a record number of youth competitors,” said Tanya Jones, executive director of Surry Arts Council, which sponsors the event. A group of young musicians came this year from Alleghany JAM, an after-school program that teaches traditional music in Alleghany County.
“A lot of these kids come from the TAPS (Traditional Arts Programs for Students) program,” said Jones. That program provides free weekly lessons at the Earle Theater for interested students. “A lot of them, but not all,” amended Jones.
The Blakley family traveled from Tobaccoville for the competition, and all three daughters took a prize playing their fiddles, one of whom borrowed a fiddle from her mother.
“We started with Jim Vipperman with the violin,” said the girls’ dad, Richard Blakley.
“We’ve been doing the campground ministry at Pilot Mountain State Park for 23 years,” said mom, Desireé Blakley.
“We enjoy doing the old time hymns,” said Richard Blakley.
Brody York (age 10) and Mallie York (age 7) have been competing for five and three years, respectively. In talking about his competition experience, Brody confessed that he usually wins. He was hopeful of winning again this year.
“It’s really about giving them a chance to perform in public, and gain experience in front of an audience,” said Jones, positioned at the exit handing out vouchers to the children who performed, granting them free admission to the highlight of the festival, a Saturday night concert by The Becky Bullin Band at The Earle Theatre.
Winners, Ages 5-12
In the fiddle competition, first place went to Lake Carver (8), Mocksville; second was a tie between Hunter Hiatt (7), State Road, and Mallie York (7), Mount Airy; third place went to Brooke Haynes (10), Mount Airy.
First place for clawhammer banjo went to Ethan Pardue (12), Sparta.
In the guitar competition, first place went to Brody York (10), Mount Airy; second to Ethan Pardue (12), Sparta; and third to Morgan Mezzomo (11), Ennice.
Dance awards went to: first place, Olivia Blevins (11), Sparta; second was a tie between Janie Fender (11), Sparta, and Joshua Novotny (11), Sparta; third place, Camdon Fain (6), Ararat, Virginia.
Awards for vocal performance were given to Lake Carver (8), Mocksville, first place; Mallie York (7), Mount Airy, second place; and Brody York (10), Mount Airy, third place.
Other awards went to first place, Madison Fain (9), Ararat, Virginia, for Mandolin; second place to Layla Royal-Witt (11) and Sierra Strickland-Mezzomo (11), both of Ennice, for a duet; and third place to Mia Francis (9) and Amber Brannock (9), both of Ennice, for a duet.
Winners, Ages 13-18
In the fiddle competition, first place went to Victoria Blakley (13), Pfafftown; second place went to Darrius Flowers (14), Pilot Mountain; and third place went to Christina Blakley (16), Pfafftown.
Jay Mitchell (13), Pilot Mountain, placed first in guitar.
Darrius Flowers (14), Pilot Mountain, won first place in dance.
Eliza Meyer (15), Raleigh, was the vocal winner.
In the Other category, first place went to Eliza Meyer (15), Raleigh, for Autoharp, Raleigh; and second went to Gabrielle Blakley and Victoria Blakley (13), Pfafftown, for Twin Fiddle.