Thursday night ( Feb. 15) jamming session has been changed to Barrontown Community Center 610 Herrington Rd, Petal, MS.

This change is due to the Death of a Church member and the Family Life center will be used immediately after a Memorial Service that day. ( all other days of the festival will not be effected)
However the Lord has provided another location for the jam only 3 miles from the church.
Traveling east on Evelyn Gandy/Highway 42 (2nd stoplight after you pass Walmart) turn left onto Herrington Rd. Travel approximately 2.5 miles and you will come to a 4-way stop. Continue straight across for approximately .4 miles and the center is On the right.

If traveling west on Highway 42 you pass Calvary Baptist church and turn right at the next stoplight onto Herrington Rd. And follow instructions above.

February 15-17, 2018

Hey folks! The 2018 Southern Strings Dulcimer Festival is gearing up for another great Festival in Petal, MS. ( just outside of Hattiesburg, MS)    Mark your calendars for the following dates: Thursday Night, Feb. 15th,- Pre-Festival Jam Session & Fellowship…. Feb. 16th, Friday – Jamming – Workshops – & Fellowship Dinner with Bingo…… Feb. 17th, Saturday – Workshops – On-Stage Performances & Competition


Aaron O’Rourke(Mountain Dulcimer) Chattanooga, TN





Jess Dickinson (Hammered Dulcimer) Madison, MS


Jan Carroll - (Mountain Dulcimer) - Lawton, OK

William Craig Mann - (Mountain Dulcimer) - Cullman, AL

Johnny Carroll - (Rhythm Percussion) - Lawton, OK

Richard Switzer - (Psaltery) - Starkville, MS

Local Instructors

Don Hill - (Hammered Dulcimer) - Petal, MS 

Kathy Ford - (Mountain Dulcimer/Ukulele) - Sumrall, MS 

Terry Keith - (Auto Harp) - Laurel, MS 

Silvia Sanders - (Dulcimer) - Hattiesburg, MS  ________________________________________________


2018 Southern Strings Festival provides opportunity for players of numerous acoustical instruments to increase their skills in workshop settings. If you do not play but would like to learn, beginner classes will be available to you. Intermediate and advance players will enjoy workshops on techniques and new musical selections. All players can gather, learn, listen, jam and share musical experiences.

  Calvary Baptist Church, 1123 Highway 42, Petal, MS 39465

  Sessions are geared to all levels of players from Absolute Beginner to Advanced, all in a laid back atmosphere.


While all our Festival Instructors are outstanding, we do have two outstanding Instructors in their field of expertise that we consider our ‘Featured Instructors’. In Mountain Dulcimer we have:

AARON O’ROURKE       is a ‘sought out’ Mountain Dulcimer Instructor all across the U.S.  He will bring a new twist and younger sound as he conducts his workshops. You don’t want to miss this opportunity to sit under his leadership.

“In our Hammered Dulcimer area we are so proud to have the one and only

JESS DICKINSON                                will once again bring his excellent teaching skills to his workshops.  Jess is a Co-Festival partner as he is the “Father” of the “Deep South Dulcimer Championship”. He developed the Championship 7 years ago and is in the process of having it Sanctioned by Nationals.


Jan Carroll recently placed 4th at Windfield, KS, received First Place in Mountain View, AR as well as the 2017 Deep South MT Dulcimer Champion.  

Craig Mann is dulcimer historian and has been an MT Dulcimer instructor in Northern AL for many years.

Richard Switzer will again lead our Psaltery Players in a “Psaltery Symphony” which will perform on Saturday. 

Johnny Carroll is a percussionist who will be giving tips on enhancing your group sound by using Rhythm instruments.


Don Hill – (Hammered Dulcimer) – Petal, MS – Deep South Dulcimer Championship 2nd & 3rd place winner. 

Kathy Ford – (Mountain Dulcimer & Ukulele) – Sumrall, MS  Multi-Instrumentalist and long timer performer with Gospel Groups.

Terry Keith – (Auto Harp) – Laurel, MS – Singing with Auto-Harp specialty

Silvia Sanders – (Dulcimer) – Hattiesburg, MS – Mt Dulcimer Instructor in both DAA & DAD with a easy to learn atmosphere


  On-Stage Performance - for individuals or groups who would like to play a '2 song set' or no more than a 10 minute slot of time. Our Instructors will also perform at this time if they desire.

  We are working to get an Multi-Instrumental Session for the Festival which will also be asked to perform on Saturday. Our Psaltery Symphony will be performing as well.

  A wonderfully delicious meal will be served on Friday night followed by the Annual Southern Strings BINGO game for prizes. (cost of meal will be on the registration form coming soon)
  Lunch Friday & Saturday - you will have plenty of time to go pick something up bring back to eat at the Church or maybe you would like to bring your lunch. Drinks will be available at the snack bar.(additional info on registration form)

  Vendors will be available on site. Music related items only. Musical Instruments, music, accessories, and new items will be available for purchase.
  Jam session will be available at all times.

  A dulcimer doctor will be available for minor repairs to your dulcimer during the festival.

REGISTRATION FORMS ( on top menu ) 


2018 SOUTHERN STRINGS DULCIMER FESTIVAL INFO & Deep South Dulcimer Championship

 Thursday night (Feb. 15,2018) will kick off our 2018 Festival with a Community Jam Session with a light dinner of Soup, Sandwiches, & Sweets. Early registration will be available so you won't have to stand in the registration line on Friday Morning. All Acoustical Instruments welcomed.

 Registered Festival attendees can sign up to perform on Open Stage which will be on Friday night after the Festival Dinner. Open Stage is for any dulcimer club, individuals or group of folks who would like to perform before the Festival attendees. Any number of folks can play, 1-2-3-4 etc. Only restriction is that any one person cannot perform in the On-Stage event over two (2) times. Each group will be limited to two (2) songs each and will also have a time limit. So get your group interested in coming and performing or call a couple of friends and plan to participate
 as long as it is acoustical.  FUN    FUN    FUN! ( Open-Stage Rules are posted in the web site menu)




2018 will be our 7th Annual Championship for both Mountain & Hammered Dulcimers.   We are proud to be able to provide an enthusiastic competition each year for anyone who would like to compete.  For addition Information and rules…….

Contact Name:

Jess Dickinson

For Competition Info or Registration




First Place winners receive Dulcimers from our Championship Sponsors:

                Mountain Dulcimer


                Hammered Dulcimer

MASTER WORKS - Russell Cook

2017 Mt Dulcimer Champions
(l-r) Jan Carroll (1st)
Glenda Meredith (2nd)
Matthew Templin (3rd)


2017 Hammered Dulcimer Champions
(l-r) Roger Templin (3rd)
Ken Shoemaker (1st)
Joseph Schadler (2nd)








Aaron O’Rourke

began teaching and performing on mountain dulcimer at the age of 16. In a short period of time, Aaron became one of the headlining names at many dulcimer camps across the country.

In 2010, Aaron won the National Mountain Dulcimer Competition held at the Walnut Valley Festival in Winfield, KS. Aaron is also a past winner in the Florida Old-time music competition held in Dade City, FL and the Southeastern Regional Dulcimer Contest in Mountain View, AR.

Aaron has authored over twenty instructional books for mountain dulcimer covering a diverse range of technique and repertoire. In addition to teaching at camps and festivals, Aaron is a regular contributor of video lessons to dulcimerschool.com.



is the owner and publisher of DickinsonDulcimer.com.  Jess has an undergraduate degree from Mississippi State University and a law degree from the University of Mississippi.  He practiced law in Gulfport for 22 years and, in 2002, was elected to serve as a justice on the Mississippi Supreme Court, from which he is retired in September 2017.  Jess was then appointed by the Governor of Mississippi as Commissioner of Child Protection Services.

Jess is an accomplished musician and has played and taught guitar and hammered dulcimer for twenty-five years.  His popular regional bluegrass band — The Bluegrass Appeal — has played numerous concert, radio, and festival venues.  In 2011, The Bluegrass Appeal released their first CD – “From Dublin to the Delta” – a pleasant mix of Irish, Delta Blues, and gospel music.  The CD is available on Amazon, CD Baby, and can be ordered on the home page of this website.

Creator and originator of the “Deep South Dulcimer Championship” in its 7th year.

Links:  DickinsonDulcimer.com.


                                                                    Jan Carroll

is an award winning Mountain Dulcimer Player.  She was the 2014 TX State Champion, 2017 Deep South Dulcimer Champion, 2017 Louisiana State Champion, and the 2017 Southern Region Champion. 

Jan is a retired Professor of Computing Science and also VP of Computing.  Teaching others and sharing knowledge has been her life long passion.  She teaches private music lesson and also teaches at festivals.



William Craig Mann

known as “Dr. Bill”  is a former Assistant Curator for Living History Programs and resident music historian for Old Alabama Town history village in Montgomery Alabama.  He has performed on multiple instruments, but focuses primarily on dulcimer, guitar, old-time and minstrel banjo, and piano.  An ordained minister, he holds master’s and doctoral degrees from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.  Dr Bill took up the Appalachian dulcimer in 1991, and still owns his first instrument.  He has taught dulcimer for the last 20 years, and currently heads up the Mountain Melodies dulcimer band based in Cullman and Blount counties in north Alabama.

Richard Switzer

is retired from Mississippi State University and USDA-ARS.  He loves music and loves to  learn to play as many new instruments as possible.  Richard is an accomplished Mountain Dulcimer player as well as a Psaltery player.  At our Festival, Richard will conduct several workshops on the Psaltery and will be available help with any problems you may have with the upkeep of your instrument while at the Festival.    Richard has been playing Dulcimer for over 10 years and the Psaltery for over 6 years.   He also plays Auto-harp, & Ukelele.  Richard is a member of several groups in Mississippi including, Columbus: Friendly City Strummers, Philadelphia: Wayfaring Strings, Starkville: Dulcimers & is a member of Southern Strings Dulcimers as well.


DR. JOHNNY CARROLL                                                                was at one time, a professional drummer who played for University bands, university stage bands, dance bands, churches, and 0ther local groups.  He is a retired Professor of Computing Science who has become intrigued with folk music.  Johnny is a life long educator and enjoys sharing his knowledge of percussion with others.