Dulcimer players, musicians descend upon Evart

EVART – Dancing had been a big part of Sonja Stough’s life for many years.

However, that changed four years ago when she broke her ankle and suffered damage to two tendons.

“I couldn’t dance and had to find a new interest,” she said. “It definitely had to have something to do with music.”

Stough set her sights on the hammered dulcimer.

“I didn’t know anything about it. I started from scratch,” she said.

Four years later, Stough’s playing has improved to the point where she and her husband, who plays the guitar, play at nursing homes and for charity events in and around their hometown of St. Louis, Mo.

Stough and hundreds of other hammered dulcimer players and acoustic musicians trekked to the small Osceola County city of Evart lastweek for the 45th annual Dulcimer Musical Funfest at the Osceola County 4-H/FFA Fairgrounds, hosted by the Original Dulcimer Players Club. The festival draws to a close on Saturday.

The three-day festival is chocked full of workshops for the many instruments and for various playing levels, led by renowned instructors who have years and years of experience playing the variety of instruments.

“It’s the best hammered dulcimer festival in the U.S.,” Stough added, as she and fellow player Sue Warner waited for their next workshop to begin Friday morning.

“It’s also the biggest you can find,” Warner added.

Teaching herself to play the instrument, Warner has been playing for the last six years.

“Music has always been a part of my life,” she said. “My mom was always a big fan of music, the Sweet Adelines and many more. When she passed away, I decided to take up the dulcimer.”

Warner, who is from Diamondale near Lansing, said she’s becoming more and more comfortable playing, using this week to embellish songs.

“It’s all about having fun,” she said.