Fiddle festival set for Feb. 13In 2007, the Society for the Preservation of the Former Governors’ Mansion, wanting to honor former Governor Arthur A. and First Lady Grace Link for their accomplishments regarding the preservation of the site, launched the Governor Arthur A. Link Fiddle Contest to encourage elementary and secondary violin students and provide cash scholarships to outstanding performers of fiddle music.
In 2007, the Society for the Preservation of the Former Governors’ Mansion, wanting to honor former Governor Arthur A. and First Lady Grace Link for their accomplishments regarding the preservation of the site, launched the Governor Arthur A. Link Fiddle Contest to encourage elementary and secondary violin students and provide cash scholarships to outstanding performers of fiddle music.
In an effort to encourage more students to participate, the Fiddle Contest has been changed to a Fiddle Festival beginning this year. All elementary and secondary violin students throughout North Dakota with an interest in non-classical violin playing are invited to the Former Governors’ Mansion State Historic Site at 320 East Avenue B in Bismarck Sunday, Feb. 13 starting at noon and continuing until 5 p.m. Students at all experience levels are encouraged to attend. The festival is free and registration is not required.
The intent of the festival is to help students improve their playing ability and increase their violin music repertory. Students will be able to jam and learn in a fun, low-pressure environment with accomplished North Dakota musicians.
Starting at noon and continuing until 2 p.m., students can play with members of the Bluegrass Association of North Dakota in their monthly jam at the mansion. Jam musicians range from those with a lifetime of playing to people who have just picked up an instrument. The jam is an opportunity for students to expand their abilities, learn new songs and interact with new instruments.
At 2 p.m., students will be able to perform violin solos, as well as play together. Professional fiddle player Loy Larson of Fargo will lead the session and coach students on their violin techniques.
Larson, who has been playing the violin since third grade, is an accomplished bluegrass and country musician, and is the fiddler for the Radio Stars from Fargo, a band that plays a variety of music, with a special treatment of both modern and traditional Western-style music.
At 3 p.m., a short dedication of a new bronze plaque, to be permanently mounted in the mansion to honor former Governor Arthur Link and First Lady Grace Link’s leadership in preserving the mansion, will take place. Grace Link will give remarks about their history with the site. Also speaking will be Merl Paaverud, director of the State Historical Society of North Dakota, and Bruce Hagan, president of the Society for the Preservation of the Former Governors’ Mansion.
Immediately following the plaque dedication will be a learning jam led by Kelly Kiemele of Mandan. The intent of this jam session is to teach the benefits of jamming, compared to learning solo. Kiemele will also discuss jam etiquette.
Kiemele started playing guitar as a young child and continues to play with area groups such as the Low Down Dirty Dogs and The Ol’ Five N’ Dimers, as well as rhythm guitar for Preston Schmitt when he is in the area.
At 4 p.m. Larson, accompanied by Kiemele on guitar, will give a fiddle performance. The public is encouraged to attend this performance.
Interested non-students may attend the festival to watch and listen with the understanding that seating will be limited and students will have priority for available space.
Light refreshments will be available throughout the afternoon. For more information, contact Site Supervisor Johnathan Campbell at (701) 328-9528 or email at jcampbell@ nd.gov.