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East Benton Fiddlers Celebration marks 50 years Sunday

"This is pretty sentimental to me. It's like priceless. Each year has been a priceless year," Chuck Littlefield said.

BENTON, MAINE, Maine — People in East Benton may have heard some bluegrass music playing in the distance on Sunday. That's because the East Benton Fiddlers Convention was back again for its 50th year at the Littlefield Family Farm.

The festival was started by Shirley Littlefield and her family. After her passing, the family has been trying to keep her legacy alive.

"This is pretty sentimental to me. It's like priceless. Each year has been a priceless year," Chuck Littlefield said.

Tim Lawrence was 3 years old at the first East Benton Fiddlers Festival. After all these years, he said he's only missed seven or eight events.

"This is part of my upbringing and part of what really has made me who I am," Lawrence said.

Lawrence was 10 years old the first time he got up on the festival contest stage. Shirley and the festival heavily influenced some of his life choices, like starting a bluegrass band in college.

"It's been a huge part of my life," Lawrence said. "It all started here for me."

Doug Protsik also recalled his involvement with the festival since its start.

"It's kind of an iconic experience for me over the many, many years," Protsik said.

Shirley's support when he was a young man had helped his and many other people's bluegrass music progress. Her support, Prostik said, also led him to pass along Maine's traditional music through teaching.

"It just keeps blossoming out more and more," Protsik said.

The festival started with less than 100 people 50 years ago, and that number has grown tremendously throughout the past few decades Littlefield said.

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