Berks County’s 37th annual Fiddle Festival has a few changes this year, including a name change and new stage. The Red Bridge Fiddle Festival is rebranding to highlight the festival’s unique character and surroundings.
This free event highlight’s the cultural connection Berks County shares with bluegrass, Celtic, and folk music on stage and around the park grounds of the Berks County Heritage Center in Bern Township on June 1, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
The festival’s new stage is a wagon that was converted into a stage (and used by the parks department over the years, and is not one of our museum pieces), and will be positioned at the base of Wertz’s Covered Red Bridge for the festival’s entertainment and fiddle contest.
The festival kicks off at 10:05 a.m. with Matt Miskie, followed by Judy Terwilliger and Matt Wlasnieski, first place winner and third place winner at last year’s Lyons Fiddle Festival.
Butch Imhoff hosts a Guitar Workshop at 12:50 p.m. Full Circle Music Society performs at 1:15 p.m. Then, join an Old-fashioned Cake Walk at 2 p.m.
The Fiddle Contest will be on stage at 2:15 p.m. Register 10 a.m. to 2 pm by the stage. Cash prizes are awarded in each age group – 10 and under; 11–18; 19 and over; and three honorable mention prizes, as well as Best of Show and Best Berks Country Tune on Fiddle.
There will be an Open Stage at 4:20 p.m. for 2 to 10 minute spots, followed by performance by N.E.V. at 4:50 p.m. and Poor Man’s Gambit at 5:30 p.m.
Poor Man’s Gambit, the event’s featured concert, is a Celtic trio from the Lehigh Valley led by Corey Purcell with Federico Betti (on guitar and fiddle), and Deirdre Lockman (on fiddle, vocals, and dance). Corey is a multi-instrumentalist who plays the button accordion, cittern, and bodhran; and is an award-winning step dancer and vocalist. Poor Man’s Gambit is known for their high energy music, three-part harmony and percussive Irish dance.
The Red Bridge Fiddle Festival offers activities for all ages. Children will enjoy an expanded children’s area filled with music related crafts and activities like the Half-Circle Kids’ Tent, a Music Craft Tent, a quick guitar workshop by the Acoustic Road Show and ‘Kids Jam Area’ with a variety of pans, wooden spoons and old wash-board where they can create their own music.
Experienced and beginner musicians can enjoy some parking-lot picking all day long, in the field near the stage. Bring a musical instrument to join in the jam sessions, or if you have an instrument collecting dust in your closet or attic- bring it along to donate to the Reading Musical Foundation’s Operation Replay for children’s musical education. Visit www.readingmusicalfoundation.org/index.php/home/how-to-donate/operation-replay/ for more information.
Food Trucks and refreshments will be available. This year’s event will also feature some farm market vendors mixed in with our music related arts and crafts vendors by the garden and Distlefink. Attendees are urged to bring chairs and blankets and are reminded that pets and alcohol are not allowed.
The Red Bridge Fiddle Festival is proud to be a partner in the 2019 Berks County Fest: An Americana Music Jamboree. The festival is presented by the Berks County Parks and Recreation Department, and is sponsored by Meadowood Music, the CD Exchange, Robert Kain’s Country String Shop, the Reading Musical Foundation, and the David Kline Family Mountain Folk Scholarship Fund.
The Berks County Heritage Center is located at 1102 Red Bridge Road (Reading, PA 19605), half mile south of the Rte. 222 exit for Rte. 183, behind Penn State-St. Joseph’s Medical Center.