Sunday, June 25, 2000

Memories by music

Ole Tyme Festival celebrates sounds from history

By Jenny Callison
Enquirer contributor

        WAYNESVILLE — Coming from all corners of Caesar's Creek Pioneer Village this weekend are sounds our forebears would have found familiar.

(Luis Sanchez photo)
| ZOOM |
        Vocal harmonizing and tunes from stringed instruments are all part of the 22nd annual Pioneer Village Ole Tyme Music Festival, which concludes today.

        “We've played here at least five, six years,” said Gretchen Beers of Yellow Springs. “Musicians in this region want to promote acoustic music and old-time music.”

        Mrs. Beers and her husband, Ken, are members of the Mountain Dulcimer Society of Dayton, a group of 140 families that draws members from a four-state region.

    • What: Ole Tyme Music Festival.
    • When: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, with all-day gospel singing in Quaker Meeting House.
    • Where: Caesar's Creek Pioneer Village, Waynesville.
    • Admission: $5 adults, $2 children.
    • Information: 862-5551 or 897-0654.
        As important as the scheduled performers on the festival's three stages, however, are the knots of enthusiasts making music together in shady spots around the festival grounds.

        “We're just jamming,” said Flo Hortz of Newark, Ohio, as she played “Old Rosin the Beau” on hammer dulcimer with a group behind the Quaker Meeting House. Her fellow musicians hailed from other parts of Ohio, including Pickering, Cincinnati, Springfield and West Chester.

        “People learn by playing with other people,” said Whitt Mead of Waynesville, who organized the festival's first fiddle contest, held Saturday afternoon.

        The festival is a labor of love for area musicians like Gwenn and John Noftsger of Spring Valley, who have planned this year's event for the past 11 months.

        “Everyone who works here and everyone who plays music here is a volunteer,” said Mrs. Noftsger, who follows her family's musical tradition.

        “My grandfather had 11 children, and every one of them played traditional music,” she said. “They called themselves the Happy Hollow Entertainers and traveled up to Cincinnati from Bath County, Ky., to play on WLW in the 1920s.“

        Stage manager Bob Ferguson of Xenia estimated that attendance has doubled or tripled in the past few years. His bluegrass group, Fresh Cut Grass, is performing this weekend, but the members also enjoy opportunities for informal music-making.

        “You start jamming with a couple of people, a couple more show up, and pretty soon you have a five- to 10-piece band,” Mr. Ferguson said. “They don't know each other but they know the music.”


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