11th annual dulcimer festival to feature acclaimed instructors


Southern Strings Dulcimers is gearing up to host the 11th annual Southern Strings Dulcimer Festival at Calvary Baptist Church in Petal. The three-day event is set to kick off on Thursday Feb. 15, with a broad list of exciting activities on the docket for the following Friday and Saturday.

The festival will provide an opportunity for players at any level to grow and develop their skills in numerous workshop settings.  These workshops will feature specialized presentations from a number of acclaimed guest and local instructors from around the country.

While the festival will host classes in dulcimer, ukulele and auto harp, all acoustical stringed instruments are welcomed as well.

Featured performers and instructors include Aaron O’Rourke (mountain dulcimer) from Chattanooga, Tenn., and Mississippi native Jess Dickinson (hammered dulcimer).

“While all our festival instructors are outstanding, we do have two outstanding instructors in their field of expertise that we consider our ‘Featured Instructors,’” said Southern Strings member Karen Mims on the group’s website.

“[O’Rourke] will bring a new twist and younger sound as he conducts his workshops. You don’t want to miss this opportunity to sit under his leadership,” Mims said.

Dickinson is a co-festival partner and actually developed the “Deep South Dulcimer Championship” seven years ago, said Mims.

Guest workshop instructors include: Jan Carroll (mountain dulcimer) – Lawton, Okla. William Craig Mann (mountain dulcimer) – Cullman, Ala.; Johnny Carroll (rhythm percussion) – Lawton, Okla.; Richard Switzer (psaltery) – Starkville.

Local workshop instructors include: Don Hill (hammered dulcimer) – Petal; Kathy Ford (mountain dulcimer/ukulele) – Sumrall; Terry Keith (auto harp) – Laurel; Silvia Sanders (dulcimer) – Hattiesburg.

Notably, guest instructor Jan Carroll was recently named the Deep South MT Dulcimer Champion of 2017.

Additionally, registered festival attendees are encouraged to perform on the “Open Stage” following the festival dinner on Friday evening.  The stage is open for any individual, dulcimer club or group that would like to perform for the festival attendees.

Petal resident and Calvary Baptist Church member Sue Sorenson attended the festival last year, and is hoping to attend this year as well.

“I always wanted to learn to play the dulcimer,” she said. “I love the sound of the instrument, and the festival is a great opportunity to learn and expand a bit.”

Sorenson explained that she was only a beginner with the instrument, but insisted there is much to gain for anyone interested in trying it out for the first time.

“You definitely get a good bit of exposure to all the different kinds of dulcimers,” she said. “People can certainly expect to learn a lot about the instrument, the music and the different playing techniques.”

Above all the engaging activities and high quality leadership, Sorenson said she is most excited for the community fellowship that takes place at the festival.

“I love meeting and playing with so many different people,” she said. “I have several friends in our dulcimer group now and we have a ball.”

To register as an attendee or vendor, please visit mississippidulcimer.com

Calvary Baptist Church is located at 1123 Hwy. 42, Petal.