The 1980s popular singing group Alabama sang about fiddles and bows, dancing in the pale moon light in Louisiana.
This weekend, Hartsville residents and area visitors will be treated to the first Hartsville Fiddlers Convention, sponsored by the Darlington Red Fez Club and the Jolly Jeepsters of the Omar Shrine Center.
The shows begin Friday at 10 a.m. at the Center Theater with competitions on different types of stringed instruments. Performers from up and down the East Coast will show off their skills on the banjo, mandolin, dobro, guitar and, most certainly, the fiddle.
According to organizers, plans were set in motion in the spring at RenoFest.
“Jack Smith sat down with attorney Marty Driggers at RenoFest back in March of this year, and they talked about how we needed a fiddler’s convention in Hartsville,” said Honey Newberry, Smith’s daughter. “Then Jack went back and shared the idea with the Red Fez Club and Jolly Jeepsters. They saw a way to help promote the Shriners Hospital for Children.”
Hartsville residents are more than happy to be on the sponsorship end of this kind of event. It’s a win-win situation for all concerned.
“We are happy the Red Fez Club chose Hartsville as its site for the first-ever Hartsville Fiddlers’ Convention,” said Hartsville Chamber of Commerce President Quinetta Buterbaugh. “The presence of guests from out of town is always a boon for our businesses.
“Mr. Jack Smith has worked hard to bring in fiddlers from all over the eastern United States. We are hoping it will raise a great deal for the Shriners Hospital and become an event Hartsvillians can look forward to for years to come.”
Competitions begin at 10 a.m. Friday with the bands and guitar and will continue through the early afternoon.
After a break, the second round of competitions of the same genres will continue until 5 p.m.Announcement of the winners will be at 7 p.m.
Also on Friday night, there will be a block party on Carolina Avenue between 5th and 6th streets with the Hartsville High School marching band performing as well as several bluegrass bands.
On Saturday morning, 90-minute long competitions in banjo, mandolin, fiddle and dobro will take place and wrap up around 5 p.m., with winners being announced at 6.
There will be a showcase of first-, second- and third-place finishers from 7 to 10 p.m.Saturday.
According to organizers, the Hartsville Fiddlers Convention is also hoping to raise awareness and share knowledge of the Shriners Hospitals for Children.
“These hospitals not only work with children under the age of 18 who have upper and lower extremity conditions such as limb deficiencies,” they said, “but they also provide hip care, care for scoliosis and other spine conditions, sports injuries, other musculoskeletal disorders and orthopedic consequences of neuromuscular problems, cleft palate and burn victims.”
A trailer will be set up both days for people to learn more about how the hospitals work and help children, and also what you can do to help the hospitals.
From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, there will be an Outreach Clinic at the Center Theater at which children will be screened to see if the Shriners Hospitals for Children would be able to help them.