From the band of bass players in the cafeteria to a gaggle of guitarists down the hall, the musicians who turned out for Fiddlefest on Friday morning weren't just picking, they were picking up some new licks.
Shirley Bates is a bass player from Huddleston, attending the festival for the second year. "You have to be around people who play better than you do in order to learn," she said in an interview. "So this gives you that learning opportunity."
Fiddlefest has settled in at Hollins University with a tuneful mix of instruction, jam sessions and concerts. When it started during the summer of 2003, the organizers' ambitions outpaced their audience. It took seven years to recover, but Fiddlefest has hit its stride, as a medium-sized festival with a faithful following.
Mike Conner is Chair of the FiddleFest Board of Directors. "First year, again, it was huge," Conner told News 7, "and we got smaller and we got better at what we're doing."
This year, Fiddlefest first timers include Sierra Hull, a talented mandolin player and a featured performer at the event. "Festivals are like the time of the year when you get to see a lot of old friends," Hull said, "so we always look forward to that part of the year to play festivals like this one."
Back for a second visit is Anton Noetsli, a bluegrass fan from Zurich, Switzerland, who says he returned for good bands, great music and the chance to jam with new friends. "It's a simple music," Noetsli said, "so if you meet some people with an instrument you're very fast in joining them and to play along with them."
FiddleFest continues Saturday at Hollins University with a full schedule of workshops, jam sessions and performances.