By: Lacy Hilliard
If youre driving down picturesque Highway 91 and you hear the sound of an old rattlesnake tail dancing inside a fiddle it can only mean one thing the annual Old Time Fiddlers Convention is in town.
The 90th Annual Old Time Fiddlers Convention was held at Old Mill Music Park in Laurel Bloomery this past weekend and as has come to be expected, the event was overflowing with attendees.
Fiddlers conventions take place all throughout the area but perhaps none is as beloved as the Old Mill Music Park Fiddlers Convention. Though the convention originated from the modern day Heritage Hall in Mountain City, it has been taking place in Laurel Bloomery at the Old Mill Music Park for the past 18 years. Though smaller and perhaps less convenient than the conventions original locale, Laurel Bloomery, (much like old-time music) isnt lacking in Appalachian history or culture. There is a local misconception that Laurel Bloomery achieved its name from the cascades of mountain laurel blooms that grace the lush greenery throughout the Cherokee National Forest region every June and July. Though the myth partially lends itself to the name, the Bloomery aspect is a bit lost in history. In 1797 Lewis Wills (one of the first white settlers in the area) began smelting iron in the present day Laurel Bloomery. The furnaces used in the smelting process are referred to as bloomers and the facility in which they reside, a bloomery.
For the majority of its existence, The Old Time Fiddlers Convention was organized by the Johnson County Chamber of Commerce; but since its move to Laurel Bloomery fifteen years ago, the Warden family has played host to the event. Today, Jackie Warden is the prime organizer and owner of the Old Mill Music Park.
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