Art, heritage, music

By Keith Strange

May 2, 2014

Brightly decorated fiddle sculptures will be on display as crowds flock to Main Street today for the annual Budbreak Festival.

The fiddles, unveiled Friday afternoon during an event at the Earle Theatre, will be part of Mount Airy’s first Fiddle Crawl, an effort of Mount Airy Downtown Inc., to bring tourists to the area.

“We’re hoping it will become a tourist attraction while also helping brighten the streetscape of downtown Mount Airy,” said Lizzie Morrison, Main Street coordinator for the group.

During the unveiling, WPAQ’s Kelly Epperson,called it a “grand event” that he said honors the region’s musical heritage.

“Why fiddles?” he asked.

“It’s simple,” Epperson explained. “Because fiddles represent our roots. We’re known for our music and we want to promote our heritage.”

Morrison agreed.

“This is also a way to pay tribute to our old-time music roots,” she said.

Looking at the works of art during the unveiling, Epperson said he can’t believe how wonderful they turned out.

“I’m just overwhelmingly pleased,” he said. “Each artist truly put their heart and soul into these,” he said. “It’s going to be a real treat to have them in downtown Mount Airy.”

The fiddles selected were chosen from among two dozen by sponsoring businesses. Nine of the 12 fiddles will be auctioned on Oct. 24, but will remain on display through the end of October. The remaining three were purchased by sponsoring businesses and will remain on permanent display.

Until Oct. 24, community members can vote on their favorite fiddle at several downtown businesses. Votes are $1 each. Proceeds from the vote will be split between the artist and Mount Airy Downtown Inc.

Morrison said she admired the quality of work displayed by the artists, who only had six weeks to complete the project.

“They obviously worked really hard,” she said.

Artist McKenzie Sumner considers himself an amateur and said he was shocked his design was chosen by Old North State Winery for permanent display.

“Originally, I’d wanted to do something with a North Carolina theme, but Old North State wanted to tailor it specifically to their wines, so my fiddle pays tribute to the Restless Soul that resides in the winery,” he said.

Sumner said he was initially nervous working with established area artists.

“But they were really great,” he said as he looked over the works on display. “I think all of these fiddles are just fantastic.”

It was a sentiment echoed by Tom Webb, who is a member of Main Street Downtown Inc.

“I think it’s going to be great to have a walking tour of art downtown,” he said. “I certainly hope the community comes out and appreciates it.”

The event also featured music by the Mountain Park Old Time Band, which performed live on the air during the event.

Keith Strange can be reached at 336-719-1929 or via Twitter @strangereporter.