Saturday, September 13, 2008

The Fiddlers

Here is another fun activity that took place at the Marion Opera House in April of 1902.

The Old Fiddlers Contest proved to be one of the most successful entertainments Marion has ever enjoyed. The Opera house was packed with people, and thirty-four old fiddlers decorated the stage with their goodly appearance and charmed the listening throng with their old time melodies.

When the curtains rose the thirty-four violins were pouring forth the stirring strains of "Dixie" and the audience rose to its feet and cheered and cheered.

After this came the contest between six of the fiddlers with the "Arkansaw Traveler" as the theme. Dr. W. F. Randalls won the prize.

Then came the various other contests, all with their unique and charming features. The greatest interest centered in the contest of the "Best Old Time Fiddler." All of the old pieces were heard in this, Dan Tucker, Yankee Doodle, Old Back Joe, Billy in the Low Ground, Leather Breeches, Natchez Under the Hill, Fisher's Hornpipe, Devil's Dream. Each fiddler chose his own piece.

The prize hung in the balance until J. H. Johnson, the man with the green fiddle, stepped to the front and began his medley of all old tunes. His violin laughed, wept, sang in the soft tones, stormed, screeched and cooed. In a minute he had the crowd with him, and in two minutes he had demonstrated that he was the master of the occasion. He won the capital prize.

Other who won prizes were: Leeson Lawson, Barney Thurman, of Blackford, J. M. Loovorn of Marion, T. E. Bartley, Robert McCarrol, Dr. Bourne, John Morris of Hopkinsville.

Our own boys won the plaudits of the audience, Charley Davis, Jim Loovern, Billie Marvel, Billie Duvall made sweet music and enjoyed the occasion.

J. H. Johnson, the winner, lives at Fords Ferry, played a fiddle made by a Fords Ferry man, - Lee Yeakey. He is an artist.

Edgie Gregory, of Dycusburg, edged in with his banjo to the delight of the audience.

The old time melodies charmed the audience for over two hours.

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