What began in 1983 with a borrowed hay wagon, music and food, this year featured six performances and three fiddle competitions for the 36th annual Lyons Fiddle Festival at Lyons Park on Sept. 15. 

Maxwell Brown, 8, was named the fiddle competition Grand Champion - the youngest in festival history.

Brown also performed the National Anthem during the Opening Ceremonies. He also accompanied his 3-year-old sister, River Ashley Brown during the Fiddle Class 1 of the fiddle competition. The Brown siblings, from Willmington, Del., played “Boil Them Cabbage Down.” River has only been playing the fiddle for about three months and was the festival’s youngest competitor. 

“What's changed about the festival is that it doesn't feel forced or thrown together at the last minute because it is carefully organized throughout the year. Our board of directors purposely work through any challenges that come up,” said Candace Weiss, festival advertising coordinator. “Yet the vibe on the day of the festival is that people can kick back in a jam session and slide into a place in the park as if they're sitting at a picnic in their back yard or a block party on their front porch and listen to music.”

Craig Thatcher and Nyke Van Wyk performed for the first time this year. The duo was described as the “hit of the show.” They put their own spin on songs like The Beatles “Eleanor Rigby” and Bob Dylan’s “Tangled Up In Blue.” The pair received a standing ovation.

“This may be the first standing ovation in Lyons Fiddle Fest history,” said MC, Keith Brintzenhoff.

Dave Kline, Sam Schmidthuber, Jersey Corn Pickers, and Eric Fisher also performed throughout the day. Andrew Vogts and The Hannah Violet Trio are both Lyons Fiddle Fest regulars.

Bill Hochella and B.J. Frey of Wake Forest, N.C. attended the Lyons Fiddle Fest for the first time. “We plan to make it an annual event. The talent is so good,” said Frey

Jam sessions took place throughout the Lyons Park.

Tom and Betty Druckenmiller have been attending the Fiddle Fest for 32 years, “It’s a chance to sit and play music for an hour.”

The event also included crafters and vendors. Musical instruments, fruit-flavored habanero hot sauce, handmade jewelry, and refurbished rocking horses were some of the products available for purchase. There were activities like rock and face painting, a duck pond and photobooth.

Festival organizers advertised the need for a new T-shirt design on Facebook. Melanie Linder’s design was chosen, “I put together the idea of community, PA Dutch, the distelfink and the Fiddle Fest,” explained Linder.

“This year, we have partnered with The Camel Project, an anti-bullying 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation dedicated to assisting schools, organizations, and individuals in changing the culture of violent and unacceptable behaviors that result in trauma and abuse,” said Weiss.

Housed in a nice motor home called The Camel Caravan, The Camel Project was located just outside of the festival grounds in the parking lot of the Lyons Fire Company and filled with displays, videos, books, handouts, and activities for people of all ages to learn how to prevent bullying.

Next year’s Fiddle Festival will be held on Sept. 20, 2020.

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