Story courtesy of Smithville Review
The Smithville Fiddlers’ Jamboree & Crafts Festival hosted a Virtual Jamboree via social media due to barriers related to Covid-19 concerning live events, and the challenges of social distancing. The Jamboree is one of many festivals across the nation that have been forced to cancel in recent months, but one of the only festivals to develop a virtual platform for contestants. The online competition, however, seems to be an overwhelming success, receiving praise from musicians and dancers that have had nowhere to perform or compete. The winners of the Virtual Competition were from as far away as California, and due to the addition of special needs teens and adults competing via social media, the Jamboree Board voted to add new 'inclusive' categories and awards for contestants with neurodivergent or physical disabilities.
"When the entries started coming in from these amazing contestants with special needs, we immediately called a board meeting to see how we could best support them. After a unanimous vote to open up new inclusive dance and music categories, we consulted with the coach of a special needs clogging group, and parents of these contestants to make sure that we acknowledged their talents and abilities in a way that they felt most comfortable. Thus, the Inclusive Bluegrass Dance & Music Awards were born." said Shan Stout, Director of Marketing for the Jamboree, "Even though we were extremely disappointed to not have the live festival for 2020, it is opportunities like this that make us see the silver lining that can come out of unusual challenges. We look forward to seeing these inclusive categories for children, teens, and adults with special needs grow year after year, and are looking for ways to make next year's festival more accessible to those with physical or mental challenges of any kind. The Jamboree is a happy place where we want everyone to feel welcome, and at home."
The Virtual Jamboree 2020 showcased a very competitive group of dancers and musicians in clogging and fiddle categories, with judges deliberating for two days before declaring the champions in each of the following music and dance categories, along with a few new accolades:
Youngest Clogger: Bay Smith - Crossville, TN
Beginner Clogging - Aaliyah Flynn - Waverly, TN
Junior Clogging - Grayson Long - Elkton, VA
Senior Clogging - Michael Motley - Lynchburg, VA
Inclusive Bluegrass Dance Awards:
Best Female - Kate Williams - Yorba Linda, CA
Best Male - Zachary Hughes - Westminster, CA
Youngest Fiddlers - Isley & Sawyer Dietrich - Arizona
Beginner Fiddle - Noah Goebel - Elkton, KY (James G. "Bobo" Driver National Award for Country Musician Beginners)
Junior Fiddle - Justin Branum - Murfreesboro, TN
Senior Fiddle - Billy Brewer - Lyles, TN
Contest Fiddle - John-Mark Sowell - Knoxville, TN
Grand Champion Fiddler - Justin Branum - Murfreesboro, TN (Berry C. Williams Memorial Grand Champion Fiddler Award)
The special feature broadcast featuring the Smithville Fiddlers’ Virtual Jamboree Champions, along with other contestant cameos and highlights, aired Saturday, July 4th at 5pm & 11pm (Central) on WCTE-PBS, along with being featured on DTC-TV3 and on the Smithville Fiddlers’ Jamboree FaceBook page at a later date. The Smithville Fiddlers’ Jamboree would like to personally invite your to next year’s 50th Annual Smithville Fiddlers’ Jamboree & Crafts Festival entitled, “The Jamboree Family Reunion” on July 2nd & 3rd, 2021 on the courthouse square in Smithville, Tennessee.