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Fiddles and viddles

By By Connie Nowlin
Managing editor
There has been a fiddler's convention held in Atmore for more than two decades, but this year those who attend the event will be able to fill their bellies as well as their ears.
Started in 1979, the Old Time Fiddler's Convention will include a barbecue cook-off for the first time this year.
The fiddling competition was begun by the Rotary Club as a way to raise money for its Rotary Village. That housing facility became self-sufficient, and Rotary started its All-Star program to recognize students at area high schools who have all A's and B's on their report cards. Those students receive plaques at the annual banquet.
Other students who have had all A's and B's for all four years of high school get $300 toward college costs, if they choose to go to college.
To change things up a bit, Rotary added the barbecue cook-off.
Keith Castleberry said that barbecue was in keeping with the spirit of the event and the day, and in line with the values of Atmore and Rotary.
"This is good, clean family fun," he said. "All ages can enjoy this. There is no alcohol, just a family atmosphere."
With the addition of barbecue, the day will begin earlier. Visitors should be able to begin trading in tickets for food about 11 a.m. The fiddling around starts at 5 p.m.
However, since the musicians usually come in a lot earlier, Castleberry said, it is hoped that they will begin picking a few tunes in practice earlier, something of an impromptu concert.
Throughout the history of the event, there have usually been about 600 people in attendance. One thing that organizers notice, though, is that many of those people are not from Atmore.
Castleberry said that some musicians had traveled from as far away as Indiana to compete.
There are several categories for them to choose from; vocal group, band, dobro, bass fiddle, guitar, mandolin and fiddle, and each musician may compete in four categories. There are usually about 45 musicians.
There may be some folks from other areas that have never come to Atmore before, though, because one of the regulars of the fiddler's convention, a band from Robertsdale called The Downhome Band, has listed the event on a Web site for fiddlers.
Raymond Goldsmith, whose brother, Lawrence, is the owner of Gold's Bar-B-Q and Grill on Ridgeley Street, is looking forward to the event.
It will be the first cook off for the team. Raymond Goldsmith said that the restaurant had been invited to a lot of competitions, but never had gone.
"We are going to presell and sell whole Boston butts, beef and pork sandwiches, rib sandwiches, slabs and half slabs of ribs," he said.
Raymond Goldsmith added that all the sauces and sides are homemade, from scratch. And without disclosing any secrets, he did admit the ribs are cooked with a dry rub.
"We're definitely going to put our best foot down out there," he grinned.