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The Kansas State Fiddling and Picking Championships 1981-1990:

A Community Tradition


by Mike Rundle

The Kansas State Fiddling and Picking Championships started humbly in 1976 as the Douglas County Fiddling and Picking Championships. From the beginning, volunteers and enthusiasts of traditional acoustic music have staged this yearly event. We've been learning a lot along the way.

We hope those who have followed KSF&PC over the years and those who are new to the contests will join in recognizing the spirit that lies at the festival's heart--to revel in the music and to find joy in our talents and musical heritage. Everett Dick, in his book The Sod-House Frontier, describes a musician with whom we feel a kinship.

The fiddler began with four good strings and often ended with two or three.... he ground out ... "Fisher's Hornpipe," "Arkansas Traveler," "Devil's Dream," and "Golden Slippers."
Over the years, KSF&PC may have been missing a string here and there, but like that early fiddler, we have persisted in making music. Perhaps we should take our motto from one of this year's featured bands--Ragged But Right. To have arrived at this 10th anniversary is indeed a cause for celebration.

We wanted this publication to accomplish several things. We wanted to capture the contest's history and to talk about the local context in which it grew up. In "Lawrence Community Nourishes Kansas State Fiddling & Picking Championships," Laurie Mackey pulls together an entertaining history of the musicians and dancers who helped make Lawrence a musically rich town. We also wanted to place this event within a larger context of Kansas history and culture. The task wasn't easy. When we began our investigations, it quickly became apparent there was little written history, scholarly or otherwise, on traditional acoustic music and community dances.

What we've compiled is neither scholarly nor comprehensive. It is only a taste. We hope it is as enjoyable for you to savor as it was for us to assemble.

We also hope this book stimulates further interest and discussion. KSF&PC wants to encourage even more support and publication on the cultural heritage of Kansas. We'd love to learn your personal stories.

With this publication and the 10th Anniversary Weekend, we honor those who passed down their cultural gifts to this place and time and also honor those who have worked over the years to keep KSF&PC going.

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