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90th Annual Athens Old Fiddlers Reunion is back

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ATHENS–The 90th Annual Old Fiddlers Reunion is set for Friday, May 28 and Saturday May 29. With restrictions being lifted by Governor Abbott and keeping guidelines set by the CDC, the Athens Old Fiddlers Reunion Planning Committee is excited to announce that the Fiddlers Reunion is back to its original design. The Fiddlers competition for all ages, carnival and street dance will be happening.
Continuing this tradition has been important to our community especially to the leading lady, Mary Ensign. She has been planning the Fiddlers Reunion for 50 years and will be retiring after this year.
“I am so happy that we are going to be able to have the Athens Old Fiddlers Reunion this year in the way we always have,” said Ensign. “It being our 90th year and my 50th and last year to be involved with the fiddlers just makes it that much more special that we are going to be able to be back the way we were.”
Ensign is handing off her fiddle to the Athens Old Fiddler Reunion committee which consists of a non-profit organization, Fiddles on Wheels founders Sherry McKenzie and Cindy Roberts, founder of East Texas Independent Business Alliance and Owner of Reigning Jewels Traci Wilkes and City of Athens Tourism and Cultural Resources Coordinator Katie Birk.
Fiddles on Wheels wrote, “Our nonprofit has been helping with the Athens Old Fiddlers Reunion the past few years and we quickly realized that it would take a team of people to fill Mary Ensign's shoes! After 50 years of volunteering and working with local sponsors to keep the annual event going, she deserves a front row seat to be able to just sit back and watch the action.”
“We have found that working together with the City of Athens, Katie Birk, Traci Wilkes and local sponsors, Old Fiddlers is a perfect partner for our nonprofit to help ensure the tradition of a free, fun, festive, fiddle-flavored weekend on the courthouse square.”
From 7 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., Friday, May 28, there will be a street dance with Athens native, a master of Honky-Tonk, Jake Penrod and His Million Dollar Cowboys.
From 10 a.m. to approximately 6 p.m., Saturday, May 29, there will be a fiddle contest  that will be followed by the acoustic guitar picking contest. After the contest  there will be another street dance with Jody Nix & The Texas Cowboys from 8:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m.
The fiddle contest will be broken down into six divisions with more than $5,000 in prize money at stake, so set up your chairs on the courthouse lawn and get ready for some great music. There will be wonderful food vendors around the square, so we have everything you need for a great day!
The carnival will also be in town Thursday, May 27, through Saturday, May 29, in the city parking lot behind The Texan. The carnival will be open from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m., Thursday and Friday nights and 11 a.m. to midnight on Saturday. Ride tickets are $1 each or purchase a bracelet for unlimited rides for $25.
Since the carnival will be in the location of the weekly Athens Farmers Market, they will be joining the festivities on West Tyler Street beside the Henderson County Annex from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
All the concerts will be outdoors this year, but we will have a Fiddlers Market inside The Texan on from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday, May 29. If you would like to be a vendor, contact Katie Birk at (903) 675-8039 or email texaninfo@athenstx.gov.The music is free with seating on a first come basis. Call (903) 675-8039 for more information.
The entire community is getting involved for this year’s Reunion.
211 Gallery, located just a block north from the competition, will be hosting a Canvas & Cork painting session from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday, May 29. Local artist, Christi Barrett, will teach a fiddle inspired painting while enjoying a beverage of your choice. Registration will be required so stay tuned for more details.
The East Texas Arboretum will be displaying one hundred or more wooden fiddles painted by the community and supporters of the Arboretum. They will be on display the entire week of Fiddlers Reunion.
Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center will be offering FREE admission to anyone who brings their fiddles and just wants to jam out. So, you might get to hear some fiddlin’ while fishin.’
Want to make a weekend out of it? Super 8 is offering a special “Fiddlers Rate” so make sure to call their office at (903) 675-7511 to book your room.
We would like to thank this year sponsors for your support, Fiddles on Wheels, Republic Services, City of Athens, Visit Athens, Reigning Jewels, The Texan, Morton Small Animal Clinic, Trinity Valley Community College, East Texas Independent Business Alliance, First State Bank, The Retreat Massage & Day Spa, KCKL, KLVQ, Bacon Auto, Athens Screen Printing and Hope Springs Water. If you are interested in being added to this list, contact Traci Wilkes at (903) 681-5185 or email tracimwilkes@gmail.com.