23rd Annual Fiddlers Convention Hits Berlin, Md.
When: Sept. 18-20
Where: Downtown Berlin, Md.
The annual 3-day Fiddlers Convention in Berlin boasts live music and competition with a family-friendly atmosphere. Sponsored by the Berlin Chamber of Commerce, the event attracts competitors from around the area as well as people who travel from across the country to join in on the excitement.
Micky Chavis, who is a member of the board of the Berlin Chamber of Commerce, said the event has changed over the years.
“It’s a nice range of people,” Chavis said. “This year we have grown the event, we have put in a lot of effort to make it more friendly for everyone. We’ve added more events for younger kids and have also made it more friendly for older people.”
Such Fools won the full-band category in 2014 and it is tradition that last year’s winners kick off the event the following year. The band will play on Friday, Sept. 18 from 7-10 p.m. on the north end of Main Street with headline act Bob Perilla’s Big Hillbilly Bluegrass following immediately afterward.
On Saturday, the competition kicks off at 10 a.m. on South Main Street, featuring adult and children’s categories including fiddle, mandolin, guitar, banjo, and full band.
A gospel bluegrass jam closes out the weekend event from noon to 3 p.m. on Sunday.
Calling all beer lovers! Burley Oak Brewing Company will be present at the event. Not only does Chavis serve on the chamber’s board, she is a part of Burley Oak. Chavis said the company is always donating its time for these types of community events.
“We have been doing the Fiddlers Convention for three years and we have worked with the Berlin Chamber of Commerce for several events since our start,” Chavis said. “The Fiddlers Convention reaches about 4,000 people and it’s great to see our friends that we don’t always see at the brewery.”
Not only will there be beer, on Saturday, nearly a dozen vendors selling local art and artisan products will be set up on Main Street. The Worcester Youth and Family Counseling Services will also be sponsoring children’s activities and the chamber will provide a bouncy house.
Natives of Washington, D.C., Bob Perilla’s Big Hillbilly Bluegrass band celebrates more than 20 years of experience on the Mid-Atlantic bluegrass scene. The band is currently made up of Kevin Church on banjo, Norman Wright on mandolin, Mary Naden on bass and Jon Glik on fiddle. Altogether, this ensemble is able to boast more than 125 years of musical experience.
The artists claim to have “an exciting blend of hard-driving, traditional bluegrass along with country, folk and original material that will please even the most discriminating listeners and make easy converts of those unfamiliar with bluegrass music, a unique American art form.”
Salisbury, Md. natives, Such Fools, hold the winning title of the 2014 Berlin Fiddlers Convention band competition. The band will be opening the 2015 Berlin Fiddlers Convention Concert. Such Fools is composed of Mickey Justice, Todd Smith, and Dick Morris, who are “bound together on a quest for a meaningful musical experience.”
According to the band, the musicians include several of the area’s most “eclectic troubadours.”
Mickey Justice: “A singer of fine songs, a keen player of most everything and a Fool. He is a highly skilled master of the treble clef and was raised in the hinterlands by a family of Dire Wolves from the fabled village of Frontier Town. He is one of the youngest people ever to achieve the rank of Mandolin Jedi.”
Todd Smith: “A singer of fine songs, master of all in the realm of the low notes and a Fool. He was raised on the mean streets of Detroit, armed with an upright bass in one hand… and in his other hand, was the rest of that upright bass. As everyone knows that an upright bass is nearly impossible to carry with just one hand. When he is not slaying bass, Todd selflessly manages to keep the matrix safe for all of us. We are all in debt to him”
Dick Morris: “A singer of fine songs, distracted noodler of guitar and a Fool. He was seduced at a young age by the rich, yet archaic medium known as the vinyl record album. He is currently making his third attempt at a freshman year studying the mysterious branch of applied physics known as ‘String Band Theory.'”
Many may know of the quiet small town located on the Eastern Shore of Maryland as “America’s Coolest Small Town,” because of Budget Travel’s contest in 2014. Berlin is not just a cool small town, it’s a cool small town with a lot of history.
When traveling down Main Street in downtown Berlin, you are walking the same path taken by the Assateague and Pocomoke Indians before the colonial period. This path then became the Philadelphia Post Road, connecting commerce to the north and west. Berlin also boasts its part in the Burley Plantation, a 300-acre land grant in the year of 1677.
Although it’s true Berlin has quite a bit of history dating back hundreds of years, the town is also known for its appearances in major motion pictures including Runaway Bride and Tuck Everlasting. The 1998 film Runaway Bride, starring Richard Gere and Julia Roberts, turned Main Street into a fictional town, using downtown shops and featuring dozens of locals as extras. Just a few years later in 2001, downtown Berlin was used on the set of Tuck Everlasting, where it was transformed into a period with far less sidewalks and cars and way more dirt roads and horse drawn carriages.
There’s much more to “America’s Coolest Small Town” than its history and film making, including its love for the arts and close proximity to several beaches.