East Benton Fiddlers Convention marks 50 consecutive years

Published: Jul. 31, 2022 at 6:33 PM EDT
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EAST BENTON, Maine (WABI) - Sunday marked the 50th consecutive year of the East Benton Fiddlers Convention.

It’s been 50 years since the sound of fiddles first carried through the hills of East Benton, and for the family running the show, carrying on that tradition is of the utmost importance.

Like so many great things the festival had a humble beginning.

“My mom and dad started this 50 years ago when a Colby student wanted to play music and there was nothing in the state of Maine for competition. So mom said we’ll come on out to the farm. We’ll do something,” said Martha Lavalle Rivera, daughter of founder.

And now the festival has become a yearly tradition for people of all ages.

“This is a pretty huge place but it’s pretty awesome. The music, the food...chilling,” said Zayden, 8 years old.

“So, to have everybody come and be a family thing where they could come, the kids could run around and have a great time. My mom is up there looking down saying, ‘good job,’ said Rivera.

Shirley passed away in 2004. But the family has kept the tradition alive in her memory.

She was known to be a kind soul who cared about others and the festival was something she loved dearly.

“She wasn’t able to do a lot of things in her life. So she has gained so much from others,” said Rosie McManus, daughter of the founder.

The legacy that Shirley and her husband have left behind can be found all over the festival.

Between the laughter of children, the dance moves of her family, and of course the melody of fiddles.

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