1: a stringed instrument of trapezoidal shape played with light hammers held in the hands
2 or dul-ci-more: an American folk instrument with three or four strings stretched over an elongate fretted sound box that is held on the lap and played by plucking or strumming. Fact is, most people in Evart, around Osceola County, and regular visitors to the area need no help in defining what a dulcimer is or how the instrument is played. It’s pretty much a shoe-in in this area. For years, and in fact generations, Evart has been the location for one of the largest, if not THE largest gatherings of dulcimer and traditional string instrument players in the state, nation, and world. The dulcimer and Evart are often mentioned in the same breath. The annual Non-electric Musical FunFest is the reason why. The Original Dulcimer Players Club sponsored officially begins on Thursday, July 14 and runs through Saturday, July 17. It seems like the Non-electric Musicale Funfest gets bigger and longer each year. That’s not necessarily true, but is seems so. Actually, it’s just that more people are coming earlier and staying more time. Too much fun. Folks don’t want to miss anything. Thousands of people and hundreds of week-long campers will stream to Evart to take part in the annual traditional music extravaganza— best known as the Dulcimer Festival. When the Original Dulcimer Player’s Club held its first meeting in Evart, it wasn’t considered too newsworthy. One week before the two-day event began in September of 1973, the Evart Review reported: “The Original Dulcimer Player’s Club Inc. (is) to hold a two day tenth anniversary celebration and meeting, Sept. 29 and 30 at the Osceola County 4-H and FFA Fair Grounds, Evart (U.S. 10). “Registration begins Saturday at 9 a.m., followed by workshop and Jam Session. “Potluck supper, 5:30 p.m. with an evening concert at 8 p.m., freewill offering. “Sunday, an All-Faiths Worship service is planned for 8 a.m. so that those with a long way to travel may start home at their convenience, and the hangers-on can enjoy their music all over again. “The site (Evart) was chosen to be as near as possible to the original site of Barryton. But proudly the club has fulfilled and is fulfilling its original purpose and grown, becoming to big for its place of origin!” That first gathering of dulcimer players in Evart saw fewer than a dozen campers, and only 233 registered attendees, 28 from Evart. Last year, nearly 8,000 people — young, old and in between — spent time at the Osceola County Fairgrounds, just off U.S. 10 in Evart during the festival. Today, hundreds of music lovers migrate from around the country, filling up the pathways of the fairgrounds, rolling out synthetic carpet, planting wooden gardens, hanging wind-catchers and wind-chimes. And the music begins. Jam sessions. Solo sittings. Musicians with varying levels of skill but equal amounts of desire join together to pound, plink, pluck, strum and stomp out the old-time favorites — and some newer tunes. A great time is had by all. As the official festival draws closer, it’s not unusual to see 10, 20, even 30 musicians struttin’ their musical stuff in one place, at one time, and in incredible harmony. There are many people out renewing friendships, after having not seen each other since last year, and they do so while hammering their dulcimers. The music of friendship — new and renewed. Over 200 workshops are planned for the many and varied string instruments being sported during the Funfest. There are also workshops for youngsters visiting with mom and dad, grandma and grandpa. With most of the administrative work at the festival handled by volunteers, the ODPC is still able to charge a very reasonable $5 gate fee. All workshops, the 16-page program, stage shows, and other festival activities are included for that one price. Camping is $17 nightly.