Dulcimer Funfest kicks off July 16

EVART — Acoustic music from guitars and fiddles to dulcimers will once again be heard loud and clear throughout the city of Evart.

This year's Dulcimer Funfest will take place from Thursday, July 16 through Sunday, July 19, at the Osceola County 4-H FFA Fairgrounds in Evart. The event, sponsored by the Original Dulcimer Players Club, has welcomed music lovers from across the country since 1973.

Though the event's focus is mainly on the dulcimer, lovers of other non-electric, stringed instruments also are welcome and can find workshops and items for sale from vendors to fit their needs and tastes. Children who wish to learn or improve their musical skills have the opportunity to join workshops fit for all experience levels with instructors offering tips and suggestions.

ODPC President Kathy Rayman is a former pianist turned dulcimer player. She also dabbles in some ukulele. Each year she helps organize the festival in Evart and attempts to make the event enjoyable and valuable for everyone.

"In my experience, when I originally came to the festival, the part that enriched me the most is the workshops," Rayman said. "It's also become a family reunion, because you're here spending time with everyone each year and sometimes this is the only chance I will see them for the year. Each person has impacted my life and they're very important to me."

The mission of the ODPC is to preserve and promote the playing of the dulcimer. To do this, the club offers the chance for musicians to experience the hammered dulcimer for one year with a deposit fee. The program includes everything a new player will need to fully integrate themselves in the instrument without the expense and commitment.

The Dulcimer Funfest doesn't only welcome musicians, but also the general public who wish to watch, listen and learn more about acoustic instruments of all types. Rayman said most attendees get caught up in the event and become inspired by the sounds and tunes filtering through the fairgrounds.

"Music is a universal language," she added. "You're strangers at first, but in the world of music you're bonded by that common love of it."

She and other festival organizers always try to think of ways to attract new individuals.

"We want to maintain tradition, but we also want to grow," Rayman said. "We're constantly looking at what people might want and what the next best thing is."