Statewide competition

 The designation of the Down From the Hills Heritage Music and Fiddling Festival as the official state competition is an important milestone in making the event into a major community festival.

What started a few years ago as a forum for area musicians to display their talent has become an event that draws competitors from several surrounding states to New Albany.

The Mississippi Legislature has approved a resolution making the festival, which starts today at the Union County Fairgrounds, a state sanctioned event.

Jill Smith, director of the Union County Heritage Museum and a founder of the festival, said supporters are trying “to create an event that works both for tourism and for preservation of an art form.”

The organizers include Stanley Wise, Bethany Dalton and Smith. It is supported by the Mississippi Arts Commission, Union County Heritage Museum, Union County Fair Association, Union County Extension Service, City of New Albany Tourism, Union County Board of Supervisors and the Tallahatchie Arts Council.

Tonight at the fairgrounds will be a Battle of Bluegrass Bands. Saturday activities include individual competitions for fiddle, mandolin, guitar, banjo and dobro. Saturday events begin at 10 a.m.

Admission is $5, and is good for both days.

Workshops and demonstrations will be held throughout the day Saturday and crafts and food vendors will be on hand at the event.

The designation of our festival as an official statewide event is a tribute to the hard work done by the organizers. They deserve our help in making this event grow and prosper.

Plan to join the throng at the events tonight and Saturday.