Dulcimer Funfest expected to draw thousands

EVART — For some, a dulcimer is an instrument of which they've never heard. For others, it's a lifestyle.

Novice and veteran players of young and old will come together for one of the largest dulcimer festivals in the country, attracting music lovers from across state and national borders.

The 42nd annual Dulcimer Funfest, hosted by the Original Dulcimer Players Club, will take place from Thursday, July 17, through Sunday, July 20, at the Osceola County 4-H FFA Fairgrounds, and feature stage shows, workshops, jam sessions, vendors and all things concerning dulcimers and other non-electric stringed instruments. A fee of $5 is required for entry into the festival.

ODPC President Kathy Rayman did not know what a hammered dulcimer was before visiting the event for the first time in 1984, but after attending the Dulcimer Funfest every year after, she purchased the instrument and dedicated herself to it.

"It's truly an honor to host the festival," Rayman said. "It means so much to me. It's an honor to represent the people and it's a work of love. We have the largest hammered dulcimer festival in the United States. It's a life-changing, amazing place to be."

She said the Osceola County 4-H FFA Fairgrounds is the perfect venue for the event, as it provides plenty of room and covered buildings for vendors and workshops.

Sharon Skaryd has been organizing the workshops for the last 19 years and this year, about 220 will take place during the four-day event. Half of the workshops are specifically designed for hammered dulcimers, while others feature training for instruments including the piano, banjo, fiddle, autoharp, mandolin, ukulele and mountain dulcimer. Many more stringed instruments will be featured as well, Skaryd added.

"All of our instructors are volunteers. They are the best," Skaryd said. "They're willing to come and teach people for free and they believe in sharing what they know."

Despite the huge number of workships available, classes can attract upwards of 100 musicians ready and willing to learn and harness more skills.

"The goal of the festival is to promote and preserve the art of playing the hammered dulcimer," Skaryd said. "We have the nicest people there. Everybody is so personable and it's fun."

For more information on the festival, performers and workshop times visit www.dulcimers.com or find the Original Dulcimer Players Club Funfest on Facebook.