Families showcased at 31st annual Lyons Fiddle Festival

Margaret Young, 13, and her brother Clayton, 12, Topton area at the Lyons Fiddle Festival on Sept. 21.
Margaret Young, 13, and her brother Clayton, 12, Topton area at the Lyons Fiddle Festival on Sept. 21. Roxanne Richardson — Berks-Mont Newspapers
James Little, 12, Zionsville, selected Farewell to Erin as one of his pieces to play.
James Little, 12, Zionsville, selected Farewell to Erin as one of his pieces to play. Roxanne Richardson — Berks-Mont Newspapers

The Lyons Fiddle Festival each year features a theme. This year showcased the family band.

All bands were family members. The first band up on stage was the Martin Sisters bringing Western Swing.

“We heard the Quebe Sisters and we totally fell in love with their music and it’s so much fun and full of energy. We just feel like we have to play it,” said Melissa Martin.

Western Swing originated in the late 1920s and according to the Texas Almanac online’s culture of music and its roots. Melissa and Christy Martin said the music is from the era of Roy Rogers and Bob Wills who is often called the father of Western Swing. The sisters discovered an American fiddle Western Swing Group from Texas, the Quebe Sisters Band, and have been playing the Texas Swing for about a year now.

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Other family bands included, but not limited to, were the Druckenmiller Family, Atkinson Family Band, The Roys, and the Zepp Family Band.

The Lyons Fiddle Festival also features an award honoring Suzie Reed who understood the value of giving the most precious gift—her time. The Lyons Fiddle Festival had been started by Arlan and Donna Schwoyer and continued by Suzie Reed.

“Suzie lost her battle to ALS a few years ago and since then the committee remembers her through this award,” said Erin Dallago, co-chairperson. “I know Suzie would say to the committee, ‘Nice job on this year’s award winner; a well deserved choice.’”

Dallago and Sandy Frederick, Reed’s daughter and also co-chair, presented the Suzie Reed Volunteer Award to Karl Hilbert who has served the community on the Lyons Fire Truck Crew, volunteers for the Lyons carnival food stand, runs a borough plow truck, and participates at the fire company on Sunday morning. Every year he lends a hand with the Fiddle Festival food stand. Out of 40 volunteers in the food pavilion, 31 are from his family.

Frederick said all volunteers run the festival. The American Cancer Society sold funnel cakes and Boy Scouts took care of the trash in addition to selling popcorn and cider. Breakfast sandwiches were available by the Jaywalkers for Relay For Life.

Also new this year was the combined effort of the local churches for fundraiser Loaves and Fishes. Money raised goes towards a meal served at the Trinity Church in Topton on the third Tuesday of the month.

“Everything good happens in Lyons,“ said Miriam Reed, Topton.

Other festival traditions included prayer by Reverend Al Zentner, presentation of Topton Legion Post 217 Honor Guard with taps, and the National Anthem sung by Erin Martin this year.

The Orange Blossom Special is played every year at the opening. Keith Brintzenhoff, Toad Creek Ramblers and an expert on Pennsylvania German music, dance, instruments and folklore, said it’s an audience favorite and is not allowed in competition.

“Because [The Orange Blossom Special] isn’t allowed in the contest and everybody likes it and wants to hear it so we pick the house musician which is Ken Gehret, who’s played on the Grand Ole’ Opry many times, last year’s champion, and Travis Wetzel,” said Brintzenhoff.

Gehret, Wetzel, the first to ever win Festival Grand Champion and now plays on the Grand Ole’ Opry, and Christy Martin, last year’s age group and grand champion, opened the afternoon competition with the Orange Blossom Special.

Fiddle Competition winners included Grand Champion Beatrice Ferreire and Youngest Fiddler Collin Bube.

Class 1 (0-12)

1st place Raphael Ettinger Finley

2nd place Sofia Delong

3rd place John Neary

Class 2 (13-18)

1st place Hannah Zettlemoyer

2nd place Angelina Phillips

3rd place Cody Knight

Class 3 (19-90)

1st place Beatrice Ferreire

2nd place Nate Druckenmiller

3rd place Emily Roeder

Competing as a family team, Margaret Young, 13, and her brother Clayton, 12, Topton area, performed a medley Margaret put together with the help of her violin teacher.

“It’s a casual fun thing. I’m home-schooled so I don’t have many opportunities to perform,” said Margaret.

Margaret competed at the festival before and said she things she did well.

“I mean I didn’t come out with any ranks, but I felt good about myself and that was it,” said Margaret.

People come to the festival to hear the bands, watch the kids compete, and join in on jam sessions.

Elsie Armbruster, Philadelphia, joined a session as a singer with Ralph Clemson, Exton, on the guitar. She had asked if he knew the old-time classic, The Great Philadelphia Lawyer, so she could sing along.

Armbruster said, “I don’t have the best voice, but I can make the song sound funny.”

“It’s kind of the usual thing to just join somebody’s group so it’s not like butting in,” said Melissa Martin. “I’m not entirely familiar with bluegrass music so I’m not really sure what I’m doing, but it’s fun anyway.”