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Silver Dollar City and KSMU Host Bluegrass Contest

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Silver Dollar City

In support of young persons involved in Bluegrass music, Silver Dollar City and KSMU hosted the 1st annual Youth in Bluegrass Band Contest on September 28th and 29th. The competition was fierce those two days as 7 finalists did their best to impress the judges and the audience at the Branson theme park's Festival of American Music and Craftsmanship.

With word of the contest and it's first place prize money of $1000.00 quickly spreading on the internet, in Bluegrass trade magazines, and on Bluegrass radio shows throughout the Midwest, there was no shortage of interest in the contest according to D.A. Callaway, the Entertainment and Events Supervisor at Sliver Dollar City. Callaway says Sliver Dollar City has for a very long time been promoting and cheerleading for our Nations youth.

The Youth in Bluegrass Band Contest is open to bands whose members are under 21 years of age but if a parent or parents of band members are also part of the group, they too can participate. Indeed every finalist in this years contest was a true family band or had at least 2 siblings in it's group. D.A. Callaway says the family setting is where the youngsters learn to play and appreciate the music.

The 7 finalists in this years contest were: The Harmon Family, from Bethalto Illinois. Husker Du Familje, from St. Mary's Kansas.

The Kelly's, from Norwood Mo. The Links, from Lebanon Mo. The Martin Family, from Versailles Mo. Ripplin' Waters, from Brighton Mo. and the Whitaker Family, from Chelsea Michigan.

20 year old Mary Colleen Omodt of Husker Du Familje says in the past few years, especially since the release of the film and soundtrack to "Oh Brother Where Art Thou?", more and more young people are drawn to the music and are showing up at their concerts.

15 year old Mark Harmon of the Harmon Family Band has been singing and playing guitar since he was 9. He says his first choice of music is Bluegrass because

"you can't just play it. You have to feel it" Marks brother is 12 year old Jeff and plays the stand-up bass. The boys father is Mike Harmon. He says playing Bluegrass with his sons helps to teach them the lessons of life.

At the end of the contest the first place prize money of $1000.00 went to the Martin Family. Second place, and a check for $500.00 went to the Harmon Family, and third place, with $250.00 in prize money went to the Whitaker Family.

The Martin Family is: 11 year old Lorita playing Dobro, 14 year old Janice on banjo, 15 year old Dale on guitar, 16 year old Jena playing fiddle, and on bass is the children's father, Elvin Martin. Elvin says they will use the prize money to put toward a motor home to make it easier to attend Bluegrass festivals. (The band has been camping in tents when playing at or attending festivals) Martin says he will also try to get another guitar for son Dale, as he is using a loaner this Summer and has to give it back soon.

Meanwhile, Silver Dollar City has plans to host another contest at next years Festival of American Music And Craftsmanship. D.A. Callaway says the mixture of the music and the crafts is a perfect fit. This years Festival of American Music and Craftsmanship continues until October 26.