CLIFFTOP — Hidden in the hills of Clifftop is Camp Washington-Carver. Since 1990, the Camp has played host to the Appalachian String Band Music Festival, or as the locals call it, String Band.
“I’ve been with it since it started,” Contest Coordinator Bobby Taylor said. “ We have 10 countries represented here today, along with 41 states.
“This is the mountaintop gathering for old-time music. Many people call it the premier old-time music gathering. People are crowded in all of the fields and all over the mountain.”
Crowded in every nook and cranny of the park are the people who love the twang of a banjo and the happy squeal of a fiddle. Among those crowds are “real characters” as one park official put it.
“We’ve got one fella here that everyone calls ‘Tomato Fred,” Head Custodian Kenny Ramsey said. “’Tomato Fred’ is a minister from Massachusetts who sells hybrid tomatoes to make the trip to String Band.”
Another character that Ramsey showed off was Charlie Burton of Pennsylvania.
“I missed one year since this thing started,” Burton said. “I missed the second year that they held it and made other plans. I still look back and wish I would have come here instead.”
Burton is the flatfoot-dancing teacher.
“I pass on the tradition of the mountain dance,” he said. “I think it’s about to get lost and I don’t want that to happen…