ODPC FunFest brings together community of dulcimer players

Bing Futch plays the mountain dulcimer in front of his vendor booth. He is one of Friday evening’s performers. (Pioneer photo/ Catherine Sweeney)

EVART — The sounds of sweet music were heard coming from the Osceola 4-H FFA Fairgrounds Thursday as dulcimer players gathered for the first day of the Original Dulcimer Players Club FunFest.

Approximately 3,000 people came to take part in the fest, bringing hammered dulcimers, mountain dulcimers and many other kinds of acoustic instruments.

The FunFest, which began in 1973, gathers crowds from all over the country to share their love of traditional non-electric instruments.

Kathy Rayman, president of ODPC since 2012, said the fest exists to bring people together as well as to promote the idea of learning music to young people.

“The fest has something for everybody,” she said. “We really try to provide people with a space to learn a new instrument, especially youths. If they can learn to play something new, then that’s fantastic.”

To learn the dulcimer, fest-goers attend a number of scheduled workshops that the event offers. The workshops allow for people to not only learn to play instruments but also to meet with other musicians and discuss their shared interests.

Fest-goers gather to practice the mountain dulcimer. The fest offered a variety of workshops for people to learn new instruments. (Pioneer photo/ Catherine Sweeney)

While people make their way from one workshop to the next, guests are also given the opportunity to check out the many vendor booths. Vendors sell a variety of unique items, including handmade dulcimers, music books, accessories and more.

Michael Allen, owner of Cloud Nine Instruments, was one of the vendors attending the dulcimer fest Thursday. Over the past 15 years of vending at the ODPC fest, he has made more than 1,500 dulcimers.

“Dulcimers get easier the more you make them,” he said. “Anyone can learn to play one. They’re easier than a lot of other instruments, and everyone here just kind of helps each other out.”

Dulcimer fans are also invited to attend stage shows in the evenings. Stage Shows consist of both hammered and mountain dulcimer players and are a great way for people to end the night together, said Bing Futch, who has been performing at ODPC FunFest for the past seven years.

“I’m really excited about the collaborations I get to have here,” Futch said. “We get to do something different every year, and this year, I have a bunch of really talented people jamming with me.”

Jim Plitt and Mary Lynn vanDeventer practice playing their hammered dulcimers. Like many people at the fest, they traveled from out of state to gather with other dulcimer players. (Pioneer photo/ Catherine Sweeney)

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Posted by Catherine Sweeney

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