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Wilkes Acoustic Folk Society awards scholarships |

The Wilkes Acoustic Folk Society (WAFS) Inc. announced the awarding of music scholarships to three people.

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Katy Farrar received the Duncan Elliott Memorial Scholarship to attend the Swannanoa Gathering at Warren Wilson College near Asheville.

Rebekah H. Myers, 14, received the the Gary Saunders Memorial Scholarship to attend JamCamp. Her father, Bob I. Myers, 61, also received a WAFS scholarship to attend JamCamp. They live in Purlear.

COVID-19 resulted in the 2021 Swannanoa Gathering being an online event, which Farrar attended. She will attend it in person July 17-23, which is Old Time Week.

Farrar grew up in New Mexico and attended Guilford College and Pacific University of Oregon. She worked in clinical settings at the Veterans Medical Center in Salisbury.

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Farrar loves old time, claw hammer-style banjo and moved to Wilkes when she heard about the preservation of traditional music here. She met an old-time picker from Union Grove called Banjo Bob Anderson, who became her mentor. He told her about the Wilkes Acoustic Folk Society and she has been a member of for about five years ago.

“The only way I could become a better musician was to practice, practice, and practice. Bob and so many others helped me develop my pickin’ skills. I am honored to have been chosen for this scholarship to the Swannanoa Gathering,” she said

The Swannanoa Gathering is an internationally-recognized heritage arts program. Traditional instrument teachings, song catching, song writing, dance and many more crafts from the Blue Ridge/Appalachia area are taught.

Instructors such as Janis Ian, Shelia Kay Adams, Kirk Sutphin and Rodney Sutton facilitate the programs. Classroom instruction, open mic performances, slow jams and meals and lodging on campus for one week are included in the scholarship.

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Pete Wernick’s JamCamp is held in conjunction with MerleFest in April at YMCA Camp Harrison in Boomer.

The late Gary Saunders was a mentor to Rebekah Myers and Bob Myers. She sings and plays guitar, mandolin and fiddle. Her biggest influences have been her father, Larry Skipper and Saunders.

Bob Myers said, “I am honored to receive this scholarship. This will enable me to attend the JamCamp with Rebekah.” Myers is a graduate of Slidell Baptist Seminary with a Masters of Divinity.

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Previous recipients of WAFS scholarships are Melanie Podbielski, Trish Wylie, Laura Ferguson, Ethan Haithcock, John Palmer, James Wagoner, Shay Lovette, Revonda Crow, Abby Huggins, Hannah ‘Josie’ Hoggard, Mary Vann Johnston, Kathleen Nicole Burnett, Liam Purcell, Chad Ritchie, Elizabeth Carter, Asa Nelson, Bobby W. Fields. Jonah Horton, Willow Dillon, Benjamin Barker, Presley Barker, Elizabeth Carter, Hallie Younger, Emma Lowe, Madison Elmore, Libby Harbour, Robert Myers, Jake Myers and Owen Combs.

To apply for the scholarships, go to wilkesfolks.org or on Facebook. Mail the completed application to Susan Rhodes, P.O. Box 123, North Wilkesboro, N.C. 28659-0123.

WAFS meetings are at 7 p.m. on the third Monday of each month except December, at Wilkes Community College’s Watson Stage.

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