Old Time Strings at Emigrant Springs

Fiddles

Emigrant Springs State Heritage Area park will soon be alive with the sounds of fiddles, guitars, basses, banjos and other instruments, some of which will be played by Northeast Oregonians.

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In honor of the park’s Heritage Days, the Blue Mountain Old Time Fiddlers Association will perform at 6 p.m. July 6 through July 8 night at the community building at Emigrant Springs. The performances are open to the public.

The shows follow a long tradition of the BMOTFA performing at Heritage Days.

“We’ve been doing this for 20-some years,” said Denny Langford, president of Blue Mountain Old Time Fiddlers Association.

Langford, who is also a member of local old-time music group The BlueMountaineers, said the BMOTFA tradition began when a ranger invited Langford and other players to play at Heritage Days. The music was such a hit with attendees that the group was asked to return. The BMOTFA has played at the event ever since.

The group’s passion for music is evident on the campgrounds, since they can be heard playing throughout the day.

“At 7 or 8 in the morning, someone picks up a guitar and we play all day,” Langford said.

Heritage Days is the group’s largest annual event. For previous Heritage Days, BMOTFA members have traveled from Idaho, Washington and California to participate in the old-time music. Langford is expecting 60 or 70 people at Emigrant Springs this year.

Many people drive up for the day, Langford said.

“They bring their chair and listen,” he said. “People walking up there stop and listen for awhile and move on. We tell them about the show.” 

In addition to playing music, the BMOTFA is hosting a potluck at noon on July 8 that Heritage Days attendees are welcome to join. George Neer’s famous homemade ice cream will also be served at 2 p.m. on July 7.

“I think it’d be interesting for anyone to come for an evening,” said Jack Raymond, public relations chairman for the BMOTFA. “(My wife and I) like it. We don’t play music and (still) drive from Caldwell, Idaho, for it.”

The BMOTFA will be joined for Heritage Days by the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, The Oregon Trail Travelers, Women Of Timber, Buck’s Mining, Oregon Wild and several craft and food vendors.

“There’s plenty of music up there,” Langford said. “We’re out to have fun.”

The performances are free with an open mic for BMOTFA members. There will be 21 open slots with performers limited to two songs each.

The BMOTFA is a group with close to 250 members that spans six counties. Local performances depend on the availability of local musicians.

-Sarah Olsen, Go!

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