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Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette Logo Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette


FIddler’s, an unlikely hit, became an enduring one

Twenty-five years ago, Berlin businessman and then County Commissioner Jim Barrett had an idea about how to add a little life to what was then a mostly quiet downtown.
Why not, he wondered, have a fiddling competition such as the one he had just seen in Elkins, Va.? Throw in some bluegrass-style entertainment, pile some hay bales on Main Street in front of the Atlantic Hotel, which he and nine other partners had brought back to life a few years earlier, and it just might become a big draw for the town.
He ran the thought by local musician Frank Nanna, and the pair went about putting it all together, knowing that it would it make for an enjoyable event, but with no idea of how long a run it would enjoy.
Turns out, it exceeded their expectations. The first convention in 1993 was so enthusiastically received that there was no question that a second and possibly a third would be in order.
Barrett passed away in 2004, but not before the fiddlers convention had established itself as a fall tradition, not just for Berlin, but for the lower shore region and beyond.
This year will be the 23rd time fiddlers and guitar and banjo pickers, from the very young to the well-seasoned veterans, will show what they can do on stage as well as in impromptu side street ensembles of musicians who like to play for the pure joy of it.
Barrett, Nanna and all the others who scrambled to make that first outing work were concerned mostly with putting together a respectable event that might, if everything went according to plan, have some legs.
Obviously, as the convention closes in on the quarter-century mark, that was the case. And just as obviously, you could say, in the bluegrass vernacular, that them boys done good.