Eleven days after Ozark County resident Casey Ritchie, 14, played Christmas music here with members of the Possum Holler Fiddlers during Gainesville’s annual Christmas block party and parade, she and six other members of the troupe were performing in the White House.
Casey, a freshman at Ava High School, lives in Thornfield with her parents, Betsy and Jann Ritchie. She performs frequently with the group of aspiring and talented young musicians who gather from throughout southwest Missouri to learn traditional Ozarks fiddling techniques and tunes. The only non-Missourian in the group is Jeff Rosenbaum, who flies in from his home near San Antonio, Texas, to practice and perform with “the Possums,” as the group members call themselves, Betsy Ritchie said.
The talented youngsters are popular entertainers during Hootin an Hollarin and other festivals and events around the area. In the five years the group has been together, they’ve also performed in Branson theaters and at Silver Dollar City. In 2011, they traveled to the Fringe Festival in Ediburgh, Scotland, billed as the world’s largest fine-arts festival.
Now sponsored by Ozark County Music, a not-for-profit corporation, the group’s activities are coordinated by Bob and Karlene McGill of rural Reeds Spring. Their activities are primarily self-supporting, and they welcome contributions of cash and also ask for serviceable fiddles to be used in their annual fiddle camp and in the developing of a school-related fiddle program.
Earlier this fall, after the McGills