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Joe Reeves of Trussville tunes his banjo before his performance.
Daily photos by Brennen Smith
Joe Reeves of Trussville tunes his banjo before his performance.

People come to play
Athens jams to bluegrass
Participants there to enjoy food, crafts, live performances

By Holly Hollman
hhollman@decaturdaily.com · 340-2445

ATHENS — Listening to Jesse Smith, 27, of Eva belt out bluegrass tunes Saturday at Fiddlers had spectators thinking she was a full-time performer.

The 41st annual Tennessee Valley Old Time Fiddlers Convention at Athens State University is a gathering of bluegrass musicians who compete or just jam. There also are crafts and festival food.

With her blue eyes sparkling from a freckled face fringed in red bangs, Smith sang about lost love at an impromptu jam session.

Bluegrass band Crosswalk was one of several competitors at the Tennessee Valley Old Time Fiddlers Convention in Athens.
Bluegrass band Crosswalk was one of several competitors at the Tennessee Valley Old Time Fiddlers Convention in Athens.
“You hear that gal?” one guy asked his wife as they joined the group that flocked to hear Smith sing.

She has been singing since she was a girl and playing guitar and bass since she was about 16.

She sings with her family in a group called Free in Deed, but that’s just a hobby, she said. Smith works in research and development, but when she heard a group called The Isaacs, she became hooked on bluegrass.

“I listen to old CDs to learn songs,” she said. “I know music, but I sing and play by ear, too.”

There to play

Others came to just play.

Alyssa Appiarius, 3, of Florence ate enough Sno Cone to turn her lips blue, licked powdered sugar off a funnel cake and shopped at the craft booths.

A look inside her pink purse revealed her purchases to be a bouncy water balloon, plastic aliens, a bouncy ball and two hair bows.

About 15,000 attended the two-day event, which was to end late Saturday with the naming of a Fiddle King, which pits the winners of junior and senior fiddle divisions. The Daily will announce the winner Monday.

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