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Fiddle, bluegrass banjo, mandolin contest winners named this evening at Vandalia Gathering

Champion fiddle, bluegrass banjo and mandolin players today competed for prizes during the 26th annual Vandalia Gathering. Two categories of fiddlers—those 60 years of age and over and those under 60 years of age—were recognized. The other two contests included all ages.

Winners were announced as part of an awards ceremony and concert this evening in the West Virginia State Theater of the Cultural Center.

The winners were:
Fiddle - 60 years of age and over
1st place ($400) - Elmer Rich, Westover
2nd place ($250) - Junior Spencer, Frankford
3rd place ($150) - Harold Burns, Yawkey
4th place ($75) - Woody Simmons, Mill Creek
5th place ($50) - Jerry Lewis, Nettie

Fiddle - under 60 years of age
1st place ($400) - Jake Krack, Orma
2nd place ($250) - Dan Kessinger, St. Marys
3rd place ($150) - Billy Ward, Elkins
4th place ($75) - Jenny Allinder, St. Albans
5th place ($50) - Gerry Milnes, Elkins

Mandolin - all ages
1st place ($400) - Mike Melton, Charleston
2nd place ($250) - Robert Shafer, Elkview
3rd place ($150) - Robin Kessinger, St. Albans
4th place ($75) - Dan Kessinger, St. Marys
5th place ($50) - John Putnam, Looneyville

Bluegrass Banjo - all ages
1st place ($400) - Bruce Jones, Big Springs
2nd place ($250) - Butch Osborne, Parkersburg
3rd place ($150) - Jim Gabehart, Hamlin
4th place ($75) - Brandon Green, Beckley
5th place ($50) - Dave Douglas, Ivydale

The annual Vandalia Gathering is a FREE celebration of the traditional arts, music, dance, stories, crafts and foods of West Virginia. The Cultural Center and State Capitol Complex grounds plays host to this expanding family-style gathering each year on Memorial Day weekend. The festival continues tomorrow at 10 a.m., with old-time banjo, lap dulcimer and flat-pick guitar contests beginning at noon.

The statewide folk festival, named for the proposed 14th colony, creates new memories for the thousands of visitors who flock from across the Mountain State and the entire country to celebrate traditions passed from generation to generation. In addition to offering a sampling of West Virginia’s traditional mountain culture by showcasing craftspeople and performers, the Vandalia Gathering pays tribute to the state’s ethnic heritage through a variety of exhibitions and programs.

For more information, call Ginny Painter at (304) 558-0220, ext. 120.

The West Virginia Division of Culture and History, an agency of the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts, brings together the state’s past, present and future through programs and services in the areas of archives and history, the arts, historic preservation and museums. The Cultural Center is West Virginia’s official showcase for the arts. Visit the Division’s website at for more information about programs of the Division. The Division of Culture and History is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.

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