Time to rozen up your bow

Published 3:54 am Monday, June 12, 2006

By By Adam Prestridge
The Atmore Rotary Club's annual Fiddler's Convention has overcome many obstacles during its 27-year history.
Last year proved to be the biggest test as Rotarians and devoted supporters teamed up to host the musical festival just a week following Hurricane Dennis. The event's venue changed, but the contestants put on a great show as they entertained the crowd.
"Last year we had the hurricane come through resulting in a reduced crowd, but I think we're going to have a larger crowd this year," event coordinator Keith Castleberry said. "I've heard from a lot of individuals asking when the festival is going to be held this year. I've even heard from some church groups that are bringing lots of folks to it. So I have a feeling we're going to have a really good year this year."
This year's Fiddler's Convention is slated for 2 p.m. on July 15 in the Escambia County High School auditorium. Castleberry said preparations for the event are going well.
"Everything is going real smooth," he said. "Everyone is being very cooperative."
Despite Hurricane Dennis, more than 300 musicians and spectators attended last year's event held inside Atmore City Hall. In years past, Castleberry said there have been as many as 700 people in attendance.
Originally, the Fiddler's Convention was held to help pay for the Rotary Village. When the Rotary Village became self-supporting about 10 years later, the Atmore Rotary Club adopted a new program, the Rotary Academic All-Stars program. Now the Fiddler's Festival pays for the scholarships awarded to those students that maintain academic excellence.
Castleberry expects this year's event to be improved with the addition of some new equipment.
"I know the house band (Down Home out of Robertsdale) has a new sound system and they're real excited about that," he said. "All the bands use their system, so that helps."
Also, the high school's auditorium has been renovated since the Fiddler's Festival was last held there in 2004. Its new air conditioning system should be a cool relief to both the musicians and crowd as they escape the July heat.
In the meantime, Castleberry said there are still preparations to be made.
"Right now we need to send mailings to all the former competitors and do some more advertising in places where they (fiddlers) congregate," he said. "The Gulf Coast Blue Grass Association is helping us out with that."
The Atmore Rotary Club's Fiddler's Convention is the only fiddler's competition in the state recognized and designated by the Alabama Legislature as the South Alabama Old Time Fiddler's Convention.
Admission is $8 for adults and $4 for children. Infants are admitted for free.

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