Jun. 2—FAIRMONT — A Fairmont fiddler was among a group of musicians honored during the recent Vandalia Gathering in Charleston.
Brian Conaway placed fourth in the Old-Time Fiddle competition's age 59 and under category during Memorial Day Weekend. Annabel Dacks, of Morgantown, won third place in the Youth Old-Time Fiddle competition for musicians age 15 and under. Another area musician, Tristan Dennis, of Morgantown, won second place in the mandolin competition, which is open to all ages.
Conaway plays fiddle with the traditional Appalachian music group, The Kennedy Barn String Band, which is associated with the Frank and Jane Gabor West Virginia Folklife Center at Fairmont State University. The group has played for square dances, Folklife Center and community events, and at local traditional music festivals.
He said he is grateful to be a small part of the Folklife Center's mission of preserving and celebrating the region's rich culture. Conaway went to his first traditional music jam session 12 years ago and discovered a friendly community of traditional musicians throughout West Virginia with whom he still plays.
In 2020, Conaway received the Folk Music Award from the Fairmont Arts & Humanities Commission for his commitment to preserving the craft.
The annual Vandalia Gathering is a free celebration of traditional arts, music, dance, stories, crafts and foods of West Virginia. The Culture Center and State Capitol Complex grounds host the gathering each year during Memorial Day weekend.
Old-time fiddle, bluegrass banjo and mandolin players competed for top honors on May 28, while old-time banjo, lap dulcimer, flatpick guitar musicians and liars vied for awards on May 29.
The unique blending of ethnic and cultural heritage combines an atmosphere as comfortable as a family reunion with the excitement of a state fair. The statewide folk festival, named for the proposed 14th colony, pays tribute to the state's ethnic heritage through a variety of exhibitions and programs.
Vandalia Gathering is a program of the West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History.