15th Annual Lagniappe Dulcimer Fête – River Rat Strummers

Join the Lagniappe Dulcimer Society in March 2016 for our 15th Annual Dulcimer Festival. We have many activities planned around the theme of “River Rat Strummers.”  If you are new to the Fête, it is a good opportunity to visit our part of the country and enjoy the Cajun culture. Our co-chairpersons are hard at work planning new events, classes and activities. These are detailed further in this blog post. The dates for the Fête are March 10 – 12, 2016; ending Sunday morning, March 13, with a gospel jam.High Country Dulcimer - IMG_2706_1I can’t believe that we’ve been hosting the Fêtes for 15 years. It seems like just yesterday, when in 2002, we held our first Fête. Our first dulcimer festival was a 1-1/2 day event featuring Louisiana dulcimer performers–Denise Guillory, Paul Andre and Bill Bryant. We’ve grown into a 4-day packed weekend–starting Thursday afternoon–featuring well-known dulcimer instructors coming from all over the country to teach new music, new techniques and new students. We have planned workshops, jams, concerts, vendors and great Cajun food.

The festival co-chairpersons are busy planning the Fête and many of the details are already arranged. Denise Odom and her committees are responsible for performers, jams, concerts, registration, publicity and liaison with the Community Center and local community.


Regina Payne and her committees are in charge of vendors, food, T-shirts, fund-raising, raffle, volunteers, museum liaison and other Fête events.



Our Fête is held in Port Allen, Louisiana, at the West Baton Rouge Community Center and adjacent West Baton Rouge Historical Museum. Classes are held in both locations. This quiet, rural town along the Mississippi River makes a great, relaxing setting to enjoy acoustic music with fans and players alike.


For accommodations, there is a special booked rate at the Hampton Inn Suites in Port Allen (call 225-389-6655; you must mention dulcimer festival to secure the rate). Camping is available at the community center for self-contained R.V.’s (reservations are made through the Community Center). There are other motels, hotels and campgrounds around, too. Refer to the LagnaippeDulcimerBR.org page for details.

Don’t know how to play the dulcimer?

We welcome new dulcimer players and anyone just curious or interested in this instrument. There are workshops and jams designed for beginning level and novice dulcimer players and loaner dulcimers to try out playing in a workshop.Paul Andry Teaching Class 2 - IMG_2470

Children’s dulcimer music:

New. We have added several classes on Saturday specifically for children; 4th – 8th grades and for teenagers. If you have a child or grandchild, locally, this is a good opportunity for instruction geared to these age groups.

We’ve updated many features of the Fête this year.  Here’s a summary of new activities and features along with old favorites:

New. The theme for this year is “River Rat Strummers.” We are planning activities and events around this theme. River Rats are a close-knit community of individuals who live and work along the lakes and bayous of Louisiana. It’s hard work as they fish, hunt, trap, harvest crawfish and grow rice. We have adopted Captain Henri Gaspard, River Rat Leader, as our mascot. Look for his likeness on this year’s Fête T-shirt.Gaspard Embrodiery - IMG_4828

Thursday Events:

New. The Krewe of Lagniappe River Rat Strummers will crown the King and Queen of “Bon Temps” at our opening Thursday nite concert. The King and Queen will rein over Fête activities and lead our Mardi Gras parade. This concert features each of our guest performers playing one song with opening numbers by Lagniappe members.


Here are Lagniappe Dulcimer Society members performing on stage in 2004 at our third Fête.

Other Thursday activities include:

  • Jam on the levee of the Mississippi River — Thursday afternoon – We will drive/walk to Port Allen and walk up the levee to a gazebo on the MIssissippi River. The wide river is full of barge and shipping traffic. It’s relaxing to strum and jam outside by the water and watch ships float by on the busy Mississippi River. Led by Peggy Broussard.
  • Pre-Fête workshops on Thursday afternoon include:
    • Beginning Dulcimer – led by Margaret Wright,
    • Dulcimer and All-Instrument Orchestra – led by Jim Miller,
    • New.  Sew and quilt a dulcimer pick holder. This event was added to give non-players an activity at the Fête. For this workshop relax and sew with Lagniappe members and make a “River Rat” pick holder for your dulcimer. It is large enough to hold a noter, tuner, picks and pencil. (Space is limited, you must sign up ahead of time on the registration form and bring a sewing machine.) — led by Maylee Samuels. NOTE: A short supply list (pins, thread, bobbins, scissors, etc will be E-mailed to participants who sign up.) A small supply fee is asked to cover materials and the embroidery.

Here’s a pick-holder we will be sewing.Gaspard Embroidery - Many Rats - IMG_4825

Catered Meals:

New.  We have enlisted a new caterer from Port Allen to cater lunches and suppers. Bergeron’s Catering, an experienced Cajun caterer, promises good Cajun food. Sign up for the catered meals in advance when you pre-register for the Fête. No meal tickets are available for purchase at the Fête.

  • New.  Lunch offerings are expanded to include a salad option,
  • New. Catered Thursday supper is planned rather than a covered dish supper,
  • Complimentary biscuits, sausage and coffee for breakfast continues for early risers,
  • Luscious desserts will be made by Lagniappe members to be enjoyed at each meal,
  • Concessions are again provided by Walker High School as a service activity. Coffee, bottled water, soft drinks and snacks will be sold.

Friday and Saturday Activities:

New.  Our Master of Ceremonies this year is Guy George–talented jazz musician, hammered dulcimer player and saxophone player. He will introduce Friday and Saturday night concerts as well as teach classes in steel drum, penny whistle and hammered dulcimer. His wife, Sharrie, is coming too — teaching a popular ukulele class. So is their friendly bird. We think he’s teaching singing — need to confirm this.


New. Our sound system will be engineered by an experience audio visual team from Baton Rouge.

Workshops on Friday and Saturday include:

  • a variety of workshops for dulcimer players from beginning dulcimer to advanced mountain dulcimer, bowed dulcimer, bass dulcimer. The festival this year emphasizes and focuses on dulcimer workshops with classes on technique, fingerpicking, alternate tunings, repertoire–hymns, old-time tunes, Celtic.
  • hammered dulcimer workshops,
  • workshops for autoharp (beginning), fiddle, penny whistle, steel drums, ukelele, mandolin, banjo, guitar,
  • New.  class on improving performance playing skills with critique by the workshop instructor of a song you will perform on stage (sign-up for this class),
  • workshops on singing– sacred harp singing, singing with the dulcimer, children’s songs,
  • New.  classes for youth for learning the dulcimer, grades 4th to 8th and teenagers.Lagniappe Players Getting Ready - Fete - 2014 - IMG_3477

Other activities on Friday and Saturday include:

  • Jams, jams, jams — all our jams are lead by instructors and are open to all instruments. Come, relax and just play the dulcimer.
  • Vendors – a variety of dulcimer and related arts vendors will attend. A list follows.
  • Performers table — Lagniappe club members will host a table where performers sell C.D’s and books.
  • Mini-concert featuring Thursday’s All-Instrument Orchestra and several of the preforming groups of the Lagnaippe Dulcimer Society.
  • Open stage where festival participants entertain with musical numbers. Here are the “Dulcimer Ladies” rehearsing for their performance last year.Lagniappe Members Rehersing - ATT_1426365149193_CameraZOOM-20150314152501561

Raffle and Fundraisers:

Our raffle and fundraising events each year helps fund the festival. We have selected quality items for the raffle including a MsSpadden dulcimer and case, ukulele, original art work, gift baskets.

New.  As a way to celebrate our theme, Lagniappe is presenting a set of 6 note cards with envelopes depicting the joie de vivre of our diverse and merry band of “River Rat Strummers.” The three designs for the note cards were painted by our members and the sister of a member. Each set will contain 2 cards of each design. The cost is $7 per set. The designs for the cards are shown below.  We encourage you to order the note cards ahead when you register for the Fête; additional cards are available at the Fête, too.

Note Card by Paulette FergersonNote Card by Joyce Bedell and Peggy BroussardNote Card by Regina Payne


Concerts for the public and festival participants are Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. There is a $5.00 admission fee for Friday and Saturday nights (free with Fête registration). The concerts feature our festival performers and instructors.

Sunday morning activities:

The Fête traditionally ends Sunday morning with a gospel jam. Join us for music and fellowship.


Registration for our Fête! We hope you will come and have a good time with us. We encourage you to register well in advance of the Fête and include all meals, T-shirts, gift cards.

  • Where’s the Registration Form? This form, as well as workshop schedules and information about lodging and camping, is available on the official WEB page of the Lagniappe Dulcimer Society. Visit the club at LagnaippeDulcimerBR.org

New. Early Bird Registration Raffle Prize. To encourage early registration we are offering a chance for a prize for registering prior to  February 19, 2016. Your name will be entered into a drawing for a lovely dulcimer and case.

Dulcimer Doctor:

Instrument repair! Come see our talented Dulcimer Doctor who will diagnose and fix your dulcimer problems. This service again is provided by Glen Noble from Livingston, Texas.

Fiddle Doctor:

This year we have a Fiddle Doctor, Calvin Ardein, from Opelousas, Louisiana. He will attend only one day (keep posted for the day). Calvin can repair your fiddle, re-string bows and repair other stringed instruments.


Our line-up of instructors and performers come from all over the country. We are especially pleased to have new and returning talent which highlight a variety of dulcimer playing styles from slow fingerpicking ballads to fast fiddle strumming. The instructors are dedicated to making our festival successful.

Richard Ash –  Mountain Dulcimer
Folkcraft Instruments, Inc.
Woodburn, Indiana

Sue Carpenter — Mountain Dulcimer
Quinlan, Texas 

Joe Collins  — Mountain Dulcimer, Singing
Shelby, North Carolina

Guy and Sharrie George — MC, Vendor,  Ukulele, Penny Whistle, Steel Drum, Hammered Dulcimer
Port Orange, Florida

Van Glynn  — Fiddle
Mandeville, Louisiana

Craig Kaster — Autoharp
Zachary , Louisiana

Jim Miller  — Orchestra, Mountain Dulcimer, Bowed Dulcimer, Bass Dulcimer
Hampton, Tennessee

Butch Ross — Mountain Dulcimer
Chattanooga, Tennessee

Margaret Wright —  Mountain Dulcimer, Sacred Harp
Kennard, Texas


Our vendors come from around the country to sell dulcimers, other instruments and related items.. We are pleased to have several local artists attend. We have spots for additional vendors; if interested, please contact Regina Payne through the comment section of this blog.

New – CalvinArdoin – Fête Fiddle Doctor
Strings and Things
Opelousas, Louisiana
Repairs & sells fiddles, mandolins, banjos, guitars, dulcimers,all stringed instruments stringsandthings2l@gmail.com

New – Richard Ash
Folkcraft Instruments
Woodburn, Indiana
Standard and baritone dulcimers, Druid Moon Ukuleles, books, music accessories /www.folkcraft.com richard@folkcraft.com

New – Lee Felt
The Bag Lady
Marengo, Ohio
Dulcimer bags, tote bags, instrument stands, music stands, foot stools

Returning – Paulette Ferguson
Denham Springs, Louisiana
Paints unique designs on music cases and dulcimer bags and creates paintings about Louisiana; illustrated children’s books; note cards; prints
you may preorder instrument bag painting

Returning – Guy and Sharri Guy
Orange, Florida
Ukuleles, hammered dulcimers, penny whistles, steel drums, music books

New – Mary Malone
Designs by Mary
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Lovely handmade crystal and beaded jewelry

Returning – GladysMiller
FretKnot Dulcimers
Sieper, Louisiana
McSpadden Dulcimers

Returning – GlenNoble -Fête Dulcimer Doctor
Sandy Creek Dulcimers, Sandy Creek Studios
Livingston, Texas
Repairs, builds and sells mountain dulcimers

Returning – Jean O’Grady
Seamstress, Crafts
Gonzales, Louisiana
Handmade embroidered and crocheted items, music stands, children’s clothing

New – Zeagler’s Music
Music Store
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Ukuleles, mandolins, guitars, percussion instruments, books, accessories for musicians
http://www.zeaglermusic.com fred@zeaglermusic.com

Returning – Concession sales benefit Walker High School Special Education Students
Millie Caldwell, Special Education Teacher, Retired
Concessions – soft drinks and snacks; handmade jewelry & unique badges made by Walker High School Special Education students.

Lastly, Incoming Lagniappe Dulcimer President, Helen Bankston, will be here in March to welcome you to our Fête. See you next spring!


One comment

  1. What a great post about the 15th Annual Lagniappe Dulcimer Society Fete coming up on March 10 – 13, 2016 at the West Baton Rouge Community Center & Museum in Port Allen, LA. The Fete is shaping up to be one of the best ever and we welcome all to come and enjoy the acoustic music we have planned for you to learn and play.


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