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Fiddlers’ Fest Celebrates 40 Years

Rotary Club of Santa Barbara Sunrise Presents Annual Day of Old-Time Tunes


This Sunday, Goleta’s historic Rancho La Patera plays host to a history-making event of a different kind. It’s there that the annual Old Time Fiddlers’ Convention & Festival will celebrate its 40th year with a full day’s worth of live music, family fun, and jam sessions for experienced and novice players. (The event also features food and drinks, music workshops, a marketplace of crafts and instruments, and activities geared specifically toward the kids.) Like the venue it calls home, the fest is rich in historical significance and is considered by many to be one of the region’s premiere old-time music events. Below, you’ll find a couple more reasons why you should head out this weekend. For tickets to and information about the 40th annual Old-Time Fiddlers’ Festival & Convention, call 450-2243 or visit fiddlersconvention.org.

1. The Headliners: Over the course of the past two years, the Rotary Club of Santa Barbara Sunrise has been working hard to breathe new life into this “old-time” fest. This year, that means performances from some of biggest acts in bluegrass, including festival headliner Hot Buttered Rum. The San Francisco-based quintet has been winning over crowds for eight years now with their energy-filled live sets and catchy mix of progressive bluegrass and folk. In fact, Sunday’s Goleta performance comes directly on the heels of HBR’s Hardly Strictly Bluegrass slot, where they played alongside everyone from Merle Haggard to Broken Social Scene (not to mention recent S.B. stopovers Emmylou Harris and Bright Eyes).

2. The Competition: In addition to a day’s worth of performances, the festival will also host a traditional music contest, whereby players and singers can show their stuff — and snag cash prizes — in beginning, intermediate, and advanced competitions. Categories include old-time fiddling, traditional banjo playing, traditional singing, flat-pick guitar, group performance, traditional mandolin, amd “other” folk instruments, and all tunes must be traceable to 1930 or earlier. For a full list of rules, visit fiddlersconvention.org.

3. The Family Time: This year also marks a noticeable shift toward a more family-friendly festival, complete with kids-only activities and jams that are open to players of all ages, as well as a noontime square dance that will surely get the young tykes movin’ and groovin’. Need more incentive? All attendees 17 and younger get in free of charge.

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