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Llano Fiddle Fest Keeps Texas Style Alive

Dennis Ludiker of Austin was the 2018 Llano Open Fiddle Contest grand champion and will defend his title at the 42nd annual Llano Fiddle Fest on Friday-Sunday, April 5-7. Photo courtesy of Larry Payne

The annual Llano Fiddle Fest, which celebrates Texas fiddle music, continues to draw some of the best players in the nation to its open fiddle contest.

This year’s festival is Friday-Sunday, April 5-7.

Event director John Caballero loves the festival for its focus on keeping Texas fiddle music alive and strong.

“The fiddle has been a part of Texas for a long time,” Caballero said. “We wanted to keep that tradition alive and do our part in having a contest every year and put the Texas fiddle out front and make it available to people to hear.”

Just one event during the three-day festival requires a ticket: the Saturday evening concert at the LanTex Theater. Admission is $15 to see Dick and Emily Gimble, Katie Shore, Jason Roberts, and Wes Westmoreland. The concert begins at 7:30 p.m.

The Gimbles, world-renowned fiddle players in their own right, are the son and granddaughter of perhaps the greatest fiddler of all time, Johnny Gimble. Shore is a current fiddle player for Asleep at the Wheel, while Roberts plays and promotes the music of Texas legend Bob Wills. Westmoreland played fiddle for Mel Tillis and was runner-up in last year’s open fiddle contest.

Concert tickets are available at all Llano Fiddle Fest events or during the week before the festival at the Llano Chamber of Commerce, 100 Train Station Drive.

Other events are free to attend. Donations and ticket sale proceeds go toward local charities, including the Llano Food Pantry and Meals on Wheels.

Caballero said last year’s Fiddle Fest raised about $7,000 for nonprofits.

Llano Fiddle Fest Weekend begins at noon Friday, April 5, at Texas Music Depot, 504 Bessemer Ave., with a kickoff concert and jam.

That evening at 6 p.m. is the Air Fiddle and Anything Goes Tricks and Licks Contest at Tommy’s Pizza, 312 Bessemer Ave.

Emily Miller of Spokane, Washington, won the Youth Division in the 2018 Llano Open Fiddle Contest. The competition is part of the Llano Fiddle Fest and draws fiddle players from across the country. This year’s festival is Friday-Sunday, April 5-7. Photo courtesy of Larry Payne


The main event, the Llano Open Fiddle Contest, begins 9:30 a.m. Saturday, April 6, with three divisions: youth, legends, and open.

Caballero said last year’s contest had 30 entrants in the youth division.

“We encourage them, even if they don’t play a Texas fiddle song, to get up there and have the experience of performing in front of a large, appreciative crowd,” he said.

The legends division will have 10-15 entrants who, Caballero said, are “there for the right reasons.”

“I say that because they just love to play,” he said.

The open division should begin sometime in the noon hour with 20-25 competitors.

“Our theater is full of fiddle-loving fans. Fiddle players like that; they’re really gracious about playing in front of a really receptive full house of people,” Caballero said. “That’s another reason why Llano is a great place for fiddle players to come.”

On Sunday morning at the Llano County Historical Museum, 310 Bessemer Ave., are a cowboy breakfast and Sunday church service from 8:30 a.m. to noon. The service closes with all fiddlers invited to play along to “Amazing Grace” in the key of G.

The full festival schedule is available at llanofiddlefest.com.

jared@thepicayune.com

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