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Festival attracts the artsy and crafty

June 10, 2006|by ROBERT SNYDER

HARPERS FERRY, W.VA.

Carl Gotzmer hunched low over the smoothly polished surface of the wooden dulcimer on display Friday beneath the tent at the spring Mountain Heritage Arts & Crafts Festival, and with an ornately carved hammer in each hand, rapidly pounded out an old and familiar tune.

A maker of both hammered dulcimers and the slim, three- or six-string lap dulcimer, Gotzmer said he began his interest in the instrument in college, after a classmate wrote his thesis on its evolution. The dulcimer was developed in the 1700s by Appalachian Scotch-Irish immigrants, who sought to mimic the sounds of the bagpipe, Gotzmer said.

"People don't realize that it originated in the United States," Gotzmer said.

Gotzmer, whose wife, Kathleen, performs in The Mill Run Dulcimer Band, one of the longest-running dulcimer bands in the country, also crafts European variations of the dulcimer, as well as an instrument he developed himself, the cellomer, a cross between dulcimer and cello.

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It was a day of both rain and shine for the first day of the festival at Sam Michaels Park, and Gotzmer, the co-owner of June Apple Dulcimers and Psalteries of Accokeek, Md., was one of 200 vendors in attendance to promote their wares beneath rows of tents, said Mary M. Via, executive director of the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce.

New vendors for this year's festival include representatives from five West Virginia wineries, including Morgantown, W.Va.-based Forks of Cheat Winery, one of the state's largest wine producers and first commercial producer of port in West Virginia, winery owner Susan Deal said.

Deal said the company has brought along about 12 of its 24 varieties to showcase for the festival.

Other state winemakers in attendance Friday included Lambert's Vintage Wines of Weston, West-Whitehill Winery of Moorefield, Potomac Highland Winery of Keyser, W.Va., and Wolf Creek Winery of Wolfcreek.

Also on hand for the first time this weekend are members of the Shenandoah & Potomac Valley Garden Railway Club with the club's 35-foot-by-20-foot large-scale model railroad display.

The fall Mountain Heritage Arts & Crafts Festival is scheduled for Sept. 22-24.

For more information about the Mountain Heritage Arts & Crafts Festival, go to www.jeffersoncounty.com/festival.




If you go



What: Mountain Heritage Arts & Crafts Festival

When: Today and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Where: Sam Michaels Park, Job Corps Road, Harpers Ferry, W.Va.

Admission:$6, adults; $3, children 6 to 17; children younger than 6 admitted free.

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