Shakori Hills Announces Convention
On Sept. 17 and 18, the fields and hollows of Shakori Hills will be filled with fiddles and guitars, mandolins, banjos, and standup basses.
The Hoppin' John Old-Time and Bluegrass Fiddlers' Convention has begun to establish itself, and its third year is bound to be its biggest. Held on the Shakori Hills festival grounds, where the semiannual Grassroots Festival of Music and Dance is also held, the convention features band contests, individual competitions, workshops, camping, nightly dances, music, craft and food vendors, and a hoppin' john cook-off.
Shakori Hills is situated on 72 beautiful acres of ancient trees in Silk Hope, not far from Pittsboro, Chapel Hill, and Greensboro. The setting is perfect for sitting around a campfire, playing tunes until the wee hours of the morning. Each night, the dance tent will come alive with dances called by Allison Williams from Nashville. Fiddler convention and festival favorite band, the Red Hots, will play a late night set on Saturday, in what is becoming a Hoppin' John tradition.
The main event at the convention, however, is the contests. Many convention-goers enter, and many just watch. Band contest categories are old time, bluegrass and neo-traditional. Individuals can compete in old-time and bluegrass fiddle, banjo, mandolin, guitar, bass, folk song, and youth musicianship. There are even dance contests for adults and children. Last September, along with some of the best local musicians, competitors came from all parts of the eastern United States. The contests run both evenings and all day Saturday.
A unique event at Hoppin' John is the Hoppin' John Cook-Off. Contestants show off their culinary talents and serve up portions of this Southern, black-eyed pea dish to convention-goers, who then vote on their favorite. The winner receives a small cash prize along with a hand-painted golden skillet.
Another enriching part of Hoppin' John is the workshops. Masters of musicianship and dance come to share their knowledge with others. Past workshop leaders have been fiddler Joe Thompson, and acoustic folk/blues artist Lightnin' Wells. The workshop portion of the convention is brought about by the support of the Chatham Arts Council.
Camping begins early on Wednesday, Sept. 16. In keeping with traditional fiddlers' conventions, there are no "paid performances." The contests and dances are the audience entertainment. Participation is what it's all about! Contestant tickets are $18, with a $10 refund after playing, and general admission is $8 for Friday and $10 for Saturday. Camping is $10 per night, and $15 for RVs. Parking is free as is admission for children 12 and under.
Hoppin' John Fiddlers' Convention is sponsored by Shakori Hills Inc., a nonprofit formed in order to provide an environment for community building through arts and education for Chatham County and beyond. This year, the convention is a memorial tribute to Timothy A. Brown, close friend and musician.
For more information, visit www.hoppinjohn.org or call 919-542-1746. Sponsors and volunteers needed.
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