Dulcimer FunFest draws musicians of all skill levels
EVART — Music echoed through Evart last week as the 46th annual Original Dulcimer Players Club FunFest brought thousands of musicians and hundreds of workshops to the area.
Rows of campers and tents filled the Osceola County 4-H/FFA Fairgrounds through the beginning of the month to Saturday, July 21, and classes were taught in many of the buildings. Everything from intermediate to advanced Hawaiian ukulele music to Busking 101 was available for funfest attendees in animal project barns, while vendors’ booths lined the still exhibit buildings.
“The Dulcimer FunFest is unlike anything you’ve ever experienced before,” said Bing Futch, instructor, vendor and performer for the festival. “If you like making music and listening to music, this is ‘ground zero’ for the most inspiring and enjoyous experience you have ever had.”
Futch teaches mountain dulcimer and Native American flute classes during the funfest on Thursday through Saturday. He also teaches an intensive mountain dulcimer class for all skill levels the Monday to Wednesday before the festival begins. Toward the end of the festival, he performs on stage and co-hosts the Saturday concert.
“It’s very inspiring to hear all the music. I call this ‘the Burning Man for folkies,’” he said. “It’s great to see people of all ages playing music.”
Futch hails from Florida, but typically spends Memorials Day to Labor Day on the road, traveling to different shows, such as Kentucky Music Week, Florida Folk Festival, Indiana Fiddlers Gathering and Dutchland Dulcimer Gathering, in Pennsylvania.
Another instructor, vendor and performer who traveled from out of the state to Evart was Michael Opp, from North Dakota, who spent part of his week repairing and building instruments at the Spiritwood booth. In the evenings, Opp would play hurdy-gurdy, a wheeled fiddle, in jam sessions.
“I saw a band playing with a hurdy-gurdy 10 years ago and fell in love,” he said. “I came here in about 2011 with a hurdy-gurdy builder and have been coming here ever since.”
Opp said though the drive is long, it’s worth it to be in Evart for the festival.
“It’s absolutely sublime,” he said. “It’s really amazing to have this many musicians in the same place. If you want to just listen, you can come to listen. If you want to play an instrument and don’t, this is a great place to learn. It’s a community of players. We all help each other out.”