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Festive variety of music rings

By Staff | Aug 15, 2014

Tim Chapman/PCT Vicky Harmel and Roger Sitter share a dance as Edie Wurgler plays piano in the saloon at the Village Fair on Aug. 10.

On a bright and warm North Dakota’s summer’s day, the twang of the banjo, the dulcet tones of the old piano and the whistles of the Celtic flute reigned king during Prairie Village Museum’s annual Village Fair.

Four groups played throughout the day Aug. 10 as more than 700 people turned out for the fair’s second day.

The groups played on and off during the day, and as people walked from one building to another. The sounds changed from old hymns to bluegrass and back again, depending on where one stood. There was something for everyone. The colorful costumes of the fair’s faithful saloon ladies, Edie Wurgler and Vicky Harmel, stood out from the crowd and lured new singers in.

“It’s just fun,” Harmel said. “People are in a festive mood. They’re here to have a good time.”

The saloon ladies have played together for 18 years, and plan to continue.

“We enjoy it. There’s no pressure and we just play songs and people cycle in and out,” Wurgler said.

Saloon bartender Roger Sitter added: “It’s good entertainment. I just like how people are a part of it.”

Pianist Glenda Mack said her favorite part of playing playing the fair two years is jamming on the old piano.

“Village Fair days are my favorite part of the summer,” Mack said. “It has been for a long time, long before I ever started actually playing out here. It’s only more fun when people sing along when I play.”

The other two groups that played Sunday came from out of town. The band Highway 43 came from Dunseith and the Celtic group GreenMan traveled east from Minot.

Playing a variety of instruments, Highway 43 is a group of three people: Brenda Johnson on bass, Dick Johnson on lead vocals and rhythm guitar and Ron Hett on lead guitar, mandolin, banjo and harmonica. The group has been together for seven years and played at Music in the Park last year.

“It’s nice to play here and have people that are appreciative of what we play,” Dick Johnson said. “One thing that was nice here was we didn’t have to play in the sun. It makes it so much easier on us when our instruments don’t change sounds in the middle of a song. It was just ideal.”

GreenMan specialized in Celtic music from Scotland, Ireland and Wales. The group’s four players are Justin Rasch on fiddle, Russ Hanson on guitar, Kari Files on whistles and accordian and Steve Files on bodhran, a large traditional Irish drum.

The group first played together on St. Patrick’s Day of 1997 and has played together since. The players enjoyed performing at the fair. They called it unusual, but fun.

“I like how it’s laid out,” Steve Files said. “It’s very nostalgic. I loved the exhibits. I liked the people that worked here. They were very nice and friendly.”

The group has played from as far the Twin Cities and the Black Hills.

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