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Erin Roth
Traditional Arts Indiana

George Vlahakis
IU Media Relations

Last modified: Monday, August 4, 2003

Background: Traditional Arts Indiana Day at the Indiana State Fair

EDITORS: This is supplemental information for a news release about this year's activities on Aug. 9 and 14 by Traditional Arts Indiana at the Indiana State Fair, which you can find at

About the Traditional Arts Indiana State Fair Fiddle Contest and the state's fiddle legacy:

This summer marks the first Traditional Arts Indiana State Fair Fiddle Contest, a friendly competition among some of Indiana's finest fiddlers. Fiddle contests have a long history in the United States dating back to the early 1700s, and there is no doubt about Indiana's longstanding dedication to the fiddle.

For the past 32 years, fiddlers have gathered to perform, trade tunes, and enjoy each others' company at the Indiana Fiddlers' Gathering in Battle Ground . The Indiana State Fiddle Championship in southern Indiana has drawn contestants from all over the region since 1983. Smaller contests and gatherings take place all over Indiana at county fairs, small opera houses and outdoor festivals. Traditional Arts Indiana is proud to sponsor this new event, a celebration of Indiana's fiddle tradition.

Contestants will be judged based on rhythm, bowing technique, intonation, phrasing and creativity. There will be two categories: Beginners (less than five years of experience) and Open Division. Three prizes will be awarded for the beginners, starting at $100, and seven prizes for the Open Division, starting at $250. Contestants will be asked to perform a hoedown, a waltz and a tune of their choice.

About the Indiana State Fair Masters Awards and winners:

The Indiana State Fair Masters Award honors artisans for their uncommon skills, knowledge and generosity to the communities in which they live and the fairs in which they participate.

Mary K. and Raymond Borgman, Master Candy Makers, Hancock County

Mary K. Borgman, 88, learned to make candy as a child by watching her mother at Christmas time, working the fondant with table knives on a steak plate. She began exhibiting at the State Fair 50 years ago and has won more grand prizes than anyone else in the candy division. She now competes with her granddaughter, whom she taught. Her repertoire expanded well beyond her mother's plain fondant and includes chocolate-covered flavored fondant, toffee, pecan and caramels.

She and her husband Raymond, 90, now work together as a team. Mary stirs the sugar mixture while it heats to the precise temperature; Raymond skillfully chooses the prize-winning pieces of candy, sorting out those with feet or excess chocolate on the bottom and expertly looking for uniformity. Over the years, he fashioned molds from metal scraps and salvaged slabs of marble from a renovation at the hospital where he worked to supplement their farm income.

The Borgmans have lived on their Hancock County farm for nearly 68 years, raising their four children and tending livestock.

The Jim and Randee Patton Family, Master Angus Breeders, Montgomery County

In 1945, Jim Patton's grandfather bought his first Angus cow. From that day forward, the Pattons have been breeding some of this country's finest purebred Angus seed stock. Over the years, the entire Patton family has played an important role in keeping the operation successful.

While Jim's wife, Randee, didn't grow up on a farm, she soon adapted, providing valuable support in the cattle barns, while the rest of the family was on the road at shows across the country. Their three children, Steve Patton, Susan Gillen and Beth Korniak, are all 10-year veterans of 4-H, winning multiple competitions at the Indiana State Fair, the Montgomery County Fair and national competitions. Susan and Beth are three-time Silver Pitcher Award winners, an award given to the most-winning girl at the National Junior Show. Steve has continued in the family tradition, managing LaGrand Ranch, a large pure-bred Angus ranch in South Dakota.

Jim's father, the late Forest Patton, was known for having a good eye for picking a good heifer or bull. The entire family has this key ability in successful breeding. "It has been a challenge over the years to stay current with the trends. What was once prized in a cow -- short, deep and fat -- is now being bred out. The cattle of the past don't resemble the animals of today," Jim said. Lean is in and so the Pattons have had to adapt accordingly and learn to take change in stride. Since his Grandfather Patton's era, the task of breeding purebred seed stock has become far more complicated, requiring a working knowledge of the world of biogenetics.

About the musical performers at Traditional Arts Indiana Day at the Indiana State Fair:

All performances will take place Aug. 14 at the Main Street Stage sponsored by Click-It or Ticket.

The Master-Apprentice Program - Bluegrass fiddler Kenny Stone of Dyer, Ind., has been teaching his apprentice, 9-year-old Scott Conley. During their time together, Scott has worked to hone ensemble playing skills and learn traditional music. Modeled on similar programs all over the country, Traditional Arts Indiana's Apprenticeship program awards small grants to Master traditional artists to pass along their traditional skills and knowledge by working intensively with a qualified, dedicated apprentice. Stone and Conley will perform at 2:30 p.m. and 3:15 p.m.

Freudemacher - George Berger, leader of Freudemacher, a German polka band, immigrated to Fort Wayne in 1951. Displaced as a result of World War II from his Swabian German community in Yugoslavia, Berger learned to play the accordion as a teenager while living in a displaced persons camp in Austria. Now joined by his sons Dan (on accordion and trumpet) and Jim (on percussion and vocals), and grandson Jakob (on saxophone), Berger's band Freudemacher performs in and around Fort Wayne at festivals, a local German restaurant and social clubs. Freudemacher will perform at noon and 1:15 p.m.

Off n Runnin - From the time that the father of bluegrass music, Bill Monroe, was a featured performer at the famed Bean Blossom Festival, bluegrass has been an Indiana passion. Especially popular in the Upland South, the musical form migrated north to Indiana as people moved from Kentucky and Tennessee in search of work. Off n Runnin, an accomplished five-member band from northwest Indiana, was established in 1999 by three friends. They are retired farmer and bass player Ike Bacon and pilot, ex-marine and banjo player A. J. Alletto, both from Wolcott, and mandolin player Tim Warran from Rensselaer. Guitarist Carl Ward and fiddler Kenny Stone complete the band, which performs locally and regionally and has competed nationally. Off n Runnin will perform at 4 p.m. and 5:15 p.m.