27th Annual ... held at Recreation Unlimited
Ashley, Ohio

March 7 - 11, 2018            


Extended Session Staff



Intermediate 2 & Advanced

Heidi Muller is an award-winning singer-songwriter, guitarist and mountain dulcimer player. She discovered the dulcimer in 1984 and was first influenced by the 4-equidistant-string fingerpicking of Lorraine Hammond. She then crossed paths with old-time music and started playing and teaching 3-string fiddle tunes.

Living in Seattle, she gave workshops across  the Pacific Northwest and down the West Coast for fifteen years before moving to West Virginia, where she taught dulcimer and guitar in schools and residency programs. Heidi soon became a popular instructor at the Ohio Valley Gathering, Kentucky Music Week, Dulcimer Chautauqua on the Wabash, Allegheny Echoes, Gebhard Woods, Road Scholar programs and many other events.

Described by Dulcimer Players’ News as “one of the dulcimer community’s best songwriters and performers”, her original waltz “Leaving the Methow” is featured on the Masters of the Mountain Dulcimer, Volume Two recording. She has published nine dulcimer tune books, including Dulcimer Moon, West Virginia Fiddle Tunes, Dulcimer Duos, Fingerpicked Hymns, and books of holiday songs, waltzes and songs by Bill Staines (writer of “River”). She has nine CDs, including Up Hurricane Creek and Dulcimer Moon recorded with Bob Webb.

Since moving to Joseph, Oregon, she has continued to tour and teach for festivals and clubs, and organizes Dulcimer Week in the Wallowas in northeast Oregon every July. Please see for more information.



Intermediate 2 & Advanced

Here's a brief "autobiography" in Dee Dee's own words from her website:

I was born sixth of seven in a very musical family. My father was a band director and my mother was a stay-at-home piano teacher.. first to her children (we started piano at 3, and another instrument at 4). By 8 years of age, I had had 5 years of piano and glockenspiel, and had started soprano saxo-phone. I could never understand until I was much older why there was always a large audience in the solo and ensemble rooms when I competed at the Junior High Level as a third grader with my little saxophone!!

At the same time, our family traveled as a family band on weekends, performing at churches, civic clubs, and mother/daughter banquits. I have an article from the Bay City Times from the late 50's with pictures, citing how unusual our family was, and comparing us to the VonTrapp family. To me, it was just another part of our interesting lives!

I went to Central Michigan University on saxophone and voice scholarships, and received a bachelor's degree in Music Education, and spent the next 13 years in the public schools with up to 900 children in my combined schools. On the weekends, my husband, Russ and I, would sing in various venues, and ended up starting Living Truth (Christian singing group) in 1979. It was at this time when I started collecting and playing 100 year old antique instruments such as the ukelin, marxophone, guitar-zither, mandolin-guitar, and at the same time falling in love with the hammered dulcimer. After 18 years full time, six albums, and the birth of our two daughters, we decided to get off "the road" and be able to attend our girls' activities as they went through their school years.

The last few years have given me the opportunity to develop as a hammered dulcimer and Irish whistle player, playing and teaching in my home and at many festivals. I also play at many weddings and craft fairs. I now have over 30 students on various instruments, and enjoy doing concerts and school assemblies. It is fun playing Celtic music with Sonas at Irish gatherings around the state, and making CDs with them.

Just recently released a Christmas CD, and I'm working on another solo dulcimer/whistle/harp/weird instruments CD, traveling to even more festivals around the U.S., and meeting more of you out there who feel as passionate as I do about playing music. Music is indeed the heart of God flowing out of us. Let us enjoy it together!!



Intermediate 2 & Advanced

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 dulcimer camps and traditional music events across the country including Steve Kaufman's Acoustic Kamp, WCU's Dulcimer Week, Augusta Heritage Center's Traditional Music Week, Kentucky Music Week, The Florida Folk Festival and more.

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 and the Southeastern Regional Dulcimer Contest in Mountain View, AR.


Aaron has released three solo albums and two albums as front man of the Aaron O'Rourke Trio. His latest recording, appropriately titled, "Unaccompanied," features all solo tracks on mountain dulcimer, banjammer (a banjo/dulcimer hybrid), and fingerstyle guitar. The album pulls heavily from influences in classical, jazz and traditional fiddle tunes, while at the same time making forays into the raw energy reminiscent of Aaron's early days in a punk band.


To date, Aaron has authored 20 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

Intermediate 2 & Advanced

Ilace Mears grew up playing classical violin and piano.  Despite a fulfilling career in Early Childhood Education, she had a (mild) mid-life crisis in 2006, bought her first hammered dulcimer, and learned to play approximately three chords - and about that many tunes.  Now she know several more chords and many more tunes.  She also has lots of new friends and a mantel full of trophies, including a 2016 National Champion one!

She loves sharing this unique instrument with students from The Ozark Folk  Center in Arkansas to The ODPC Funfest in Michigan as well as folks in Southwest Missouri, especially those visiting The Butterfly Palace in Branson.

Ilace plays fiddle tunes with enthusiasm, hymns with joy, Celtic because it's in her bones, Bach because it's in her blood, and yes, even a little Elvis!   "Peace Like a River" is Ilace's highly acclaimed first CD.  A Christmas album, "Tidings of Peace, Comfort, and Joy," is her latest project.  One of her life goals is to make sure the tune "Roscoe" is played at every jam. 



Past Beginner/Early Intermediate

Past Beginner/Early Intermediate



Once again, Diane will bring her love of music to the Buckeye Dulcimer Festival.   At her home in NE Ohio Amish company, her home is filled with music as she gives lessons on piano, guitar, and mountain dulcimer to many in the community.

She has given freely of her time and talent to help new players on the mountain dulcimer along their musical journey.  Her orientation introductions have included comparing learning the dulcimer to football, fishing, and I know that I am forgetting some good ones.

For many years, we knew Diane as the mother who brought (sat in class ) two of her daughters (Hannah and Joanna) to the festival.  We are so glad that you will be working with our beginner mountain dulcimer players.


In 1997, when Chris Steiner responded to a newspaper ad that said, “Learn to play 10 songs on the dulcimer in 2 hours.  Keep the dulcimer. $35”, little did she know where it would lead.  That first dulcimer turned out to be a cardboard mountain dulcimer. Within two weeks, she was performing at the county fair and local nursing homes. A few months later, she saw her first hammered dulcimer, and fell in love all over again. The very first dulcimer festival that she attended was none other than Buckeye, and she has attended every one since then, as a participant the first four years, and an instructor the last thirteen. (Yes, she has all of her name badges to prove it!) As someone who never touched a stringed instrument until she was in her 40s, Chris is living proof that you are never too old to learn, and she just LOVES teaching “old dogs new tricks”.

In addition to private lessons, Chris conducts workshops and performs at several festivals and venues yearly.  Her vita includes assisting with in-school music clubs and programs and conducting workshops for school teachers for “Bluegrass in the Schools” in conjunction with the International Bluegrass Music Association in Nashville. This is a program that promotes old time and bluegrass music as part of a standardized school curriculum. An exciting highlight of this time was when she taught 120 inner-city school children in Nashville how to make and play “bucket basses”.  They then accompanied Joe while he played banjo for them.  

Both Chris and Joe are very active in festival leadership in both the dulcimer and bluegrass world.  In addition with assisting Shari and Joyce with the “Dulcimers in the Cornfield” Festival in Wapakoneta for three years, and assisting wherever needed at Buckeye for the last decade, they are very active and key leaders in the Northern Indiana Bluegrass Association which hosts two huge, multi-day bluegrass festivals a year in Kendallville, Indiana.

Chris (Cooperrider) Steiner is one-half (the better half, she says!) of Chris and Joe - Old Time Duo.  Chris’ instrument of choice is the hammered dulcimer, but she can also be found playing upright bass when the opportunity arises. For more information about Chris or Old Time Duo, check out or email Chris at



Charles Whitmer is a former middle school band director in Texas. He taught music in the public schools from 1982 to 2016 with 31 of those years having been teaching middle school band in the Texas public schools as well as having taught 4 years as a general music teacher at the elementary level. He also formerly taught music for the Department of Defense Dependents Schools (DoDDS) at the US Army's Camp Zama in Japan as well as he taught band for the Santa Fe Public Schools in Santa Fe, New Mexico. 

He has a Bachelor of Music Degree in Education (1980) and a Master of Curriculum & Instruction (music education) Degree (1989) both from the University of Houston. He is a member of the Texas Music Educators Association and the Association of Texas Small School Bands.

Mr. Whitmer was also featured on an album produced locally as a solo soprano saxophonist on the album, "Psalms, Hymns, & Spiritual Songs" in 2009 produced by Mr. Dennis Mease of The Woodlands, Texas. 

He currently has 612 traditional songs in print arranged for autoharp for which he is known internationally.   

In 2008 he was inducted into the Autoharp Hall of Fame. He is a current staff member of The Autoharp Quarterly as a sheet music editor and was also a long time staff member for i.a.d. Publications, a former international quarterly magazine for autoharp enthusiasts.  

His use of traditional folk music in his band classes has been featured at two music education conferences: The 4th Conference on Narrative Inquiry in Music Education at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, FINLAND as well as at the New Directions in Music Education conference at Michigan State University in East Lansing, MICHIGAN. Both presentations were the results of the studies of Mr. Whitmer's use of traditional music teaching band in Texas by Canadian music education professors Dr. Kari K. Veblen of The University of Western Ontario and Dr. Janice Waldron of The University of Windsor, both located in Ontario, CANADA.  

He also is the author/arranger of a major book publication for concert bands, 52 Hymns and Chorales for Winds, published by Wingert-Jones Publications that consists of a conductor’s score, piano book and 20 different parts books.   

His workshops outside the public schools are primarily teaching autoharp classes. He also teaches workshops in Sacred Harp shape note singing, an American folk hymn tradition from where many of the chorales in this collection originated.  

Places where he has taught autoharp workshops and/or performed (as well as shape note folk hymn singings) include West Virginia, Arkansas, Pennsylvania, Oregon, California, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Florida, Texas, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Tennessee, Washington DC and Japan.



For many years, Shari created, taught, led, and facilitated the Band workshop here at Buckeye.  It's the type of workshop that draws on a lifetime of music experience to bring out the best in all players.  Shari has been involved in teaching music workshops on guitar and mountain dulcimer, developing workshop schedules, cr
eating and running festivals and camps as a member of Sweetwater, Country Strings, and as a past officer, president, and member of the Mountain Dulcimer Society of Dayton, and now music leader for a local community group, Nine Mile Creek out of Russia, OH. 

Here at Buckeye, she has been stirring the pot as assistant director to Louise Ziegler (Director Emeritus) and now as Co-Director with Joyce Harrison.  Last year, Shari seized the opportunity to once again lead the Band-it! workshop.  The Band-It! workshop is so special in that each participant has a purpose and adds to the music.  It's a wonderful class to keep and sharpen music skills.   She is really excited to be doing it again this year.






Hammered Dulcimer

Mountain Dulcimer

(Urbana, Oh) 

Phyllis has been playing autoharp since 2006. Mountain Laurel Autoharp Gathering at Newport, Pa was her first experience playing an autoharp. Her musical background goes back to the age of 8 when she received an accordion for her birthday.

Playing Clarinet and Saxophone became her passion while at Graham Local Schools. After graduation, keyboard playing was once again her top priority. In 2003 she joined the West Central Ohio Community Concert Band (Clarinet) and The Fountainaires Jazz Band (Saxophone). In 2007, she joined the Mad River Valley Dulcimer Society playing the autoharp. Phyllis enjoys all types of music and believes everyone should enjoy playing the autoharp as much as she does.  Returning for her third year at Buckeye, she would like to get folks started on the right track with her teaching at both beginner and early intermediate levels.

This year, Phyllis will also be joining Shari in The Band-It! class in assisting the autoharp participants in picking and back-up playing techniques.

(Elida, OH)

Jill has been playing mountain dulcimer since 2010, when she received a mountain dulcimer as a birthday gift from a “dear couple” from her church.  They had remembered how “intrigued” she was with the dulcimer group that had played at their church and wanted to “pass on” a dulcimer they had.  That one birthday gift has changed the direction of her “Life’s Journey”.  Unlike anything she could ever have imagined, music has “puffed up” her sails, and charted her on a new course.   

Other than 2 years of  “the dreaded piano” in elementary school, Jill’s music experience truly began with her mountain dulcimer.  From the moment she stuck her head into a jam in Wapakoneta, Ohio – scared to death and wanting to RUN out the front door when Shari and Joyce asked her to bring her dulcimer in and play with them,…she’s been hooked.     

Though the mountain dulcimer will always hold a special place in her heart, the hammered dulcimer is where she has found her home.  In 2011 Michael Allen  of Cloud Nine, made her a hammered dulcimer of Curly Maple….and the journey continues.  She is a member of Nine Mile Creek String Band in Russia Ohio.

(Rochester, OH)

Ricki was introduced to the lap dulcimer about 18 years ago, when she was asked to build cardboard dulcimers with her developmentally delayed high school students as part of their occupational orientation class.   Ricki and her students built approximately 1300 dulcimers during the 3 years they built these instruments for a non-profilt agency in Elyria, Ohio. 

She has played for about 15 years and has attended the Buckeye Dulcimer Festival for most of those years.  She loves jamming and learning new tunes and hopes to transfer that love to her new players and beginners.





As the Buckeye Dulcimer Festival has grown, the 'behind the scenes' work and details have grown. 
With so many 'extras' planned for this year, look for these folks helping to make this year the BEST ever.

Co-Director - Shari Wolf

... has been involved with the Buckeye Dulcimer Festival since it's inception 25 years ago.  The first 20 years was spent in helping Louise Ziegler start and organize the festival.  Since then along with assistant director, Joyce Harrison, the festival has moved forward and hopes to continue as long as our participants want it to.   

Musically, she was a founding member of Sweetwater, an Ohio-based trio.  The Sweetwater group was a cornerstone of the festival until their group finale' in 2008. 

Since that time, Shari has been involved with her educational materials business, Country Strings, manages websites for a wide variety of music-related groups, past president of the Dayton Dulcimer Society
, and music leader for Nine-Mile Creek, a community stringband. in Russia, Ohio.

She also manages websites for the a number of small local businesses in her area.  During 2011 marked the 3rd year of the DULCIMERS IN THE CORNFIELD Festival in late April that she, along with Joyce Harrison, plan, organize and make happen.

She'll join Country Strings in  kicking off Friday night's concert and in leading the Sunday morning Gospel Sing.  In addition to being involved with Buckeye, she helped with the organization of the Old Time Gospel Music Retreat as a member of Country Strings.   For more information about Shari and duo with Joyce Harrison (Dulcdaze), click here.

Co-Director - Joyce Harrison

... has been actively involved in the Buckeye Dulcimer Festival for the past 20 years, first as a participant, then in 1997 as an instructor, and in 1998 assisting Louise Ziegler and Shari Wolf in the organization of the festival.  She has researched and made the initial contacts for the hammered dulcimer instructors.  She also revised the design of the brochures and registration forms along with creating name tags, schedules, and other various office duties. 

This year, Joyce will be teaching the hammer dulcimer past beginner/early intermediate during the extended schedule and working in a leadership role of the festival as Co- Director.   She'll join Country Strings in  kicking off Friday night's concert and in leading the Sunday morning Gospel Sing. 

In addition to being involved with Buckeye, she organized the Old Time Gospel Music Retreat as a member of Country Strings.  Joyce and Shari Wolf organized the DULCIMERS IN THE CORNFIELD Festival held in April, and they were involved with many other 'live' music events at the Famous Old Time Music Company formerly in Wapakoneta, OH.

For more information about Joyce and the duo with Shari Wolf, (Dul-C-Daze), click here.

Director Emeritus - Louise Ziegler

Hello to All Who Love the Buckeye Dulcimer Festival: 

It is with a heavy heart, but a joyful and peaceful soul that we must let you know that Louise Ziegler (a driving force of the festival and director for the first 20 years) passed away early Friday morning, May 19, surrounded by family. She stood up to cancer and it didn't take her spirit. She was peaceful ... Hospice was wonderful.  I treasure the time we had with her and the special 'sharing' time with her daughter, Jan, early in the week.  Thinking of all the family and friends with which she has been reunited, makes my spirit smile.

There was a Celebration of Louise's Life on June 10  at her home in Ashley, Ohio.     We filled the yard with music, remembrances and JOY! 

We are thinking of her family but also of her music family from the Buckeye Dulcimer Festival, The Gospel Retreat, The Heritage group, many area dulcimer groups, and just folks that she was able to share the joy of the dulcimer. God Speed wonderful friend!   ~~ Shari and Joyce

PS. Louise’s story:  

If you would like to make a donation in Louise Ziegler’s name:       

Hospice of Marion, 1713 Marion-Mount Gilead Road, Marion, Ohio  43302 

Kilbourne United Methodist Church, 5591 State Route 521, Kilbourne, Ohio  43032 

Recreation Unlimited, Year round camp for individuals with Disabilities, and the home of the Buckeye Dulcimer Festival*.
Recreation Unlimited, 7700 Piper Road, Attn:  David Hudler, Ashley, OH  43003*As a result of a donation from the Buckeye Dulcimer Festival a couple of years ago, music has become a part of the camp program at RU.  You could designate your donation to be directed to that part of the program.


DOROTHY BUCHANAN has been with this festival since the very first year.  She is no longer on staff, but is still a valued member of our festival.  We still hope to see her at the festival "if the weather be right!" 

She served as a hammered dulcimer instructor and music advisor for many years.   Dorothy also ran BDF open stages.  When presented the challenge of organizing a "CLASS" open stage, Dorothy came up with the most innovative way of making it work.

Hope to see you at BDF 2017 just to have fun.

Dorothy, THANK YOU for all your work, support, and friendship! 

DEBBIE & BRIAN DOGGETT are long-time friends of the Buckeye Dulcimer Festival.  Many years ago, Louise presented to them the challenge of handling the registration table during the entire festival.  They accepted the challenge. 

We can't imagine the festival without them!

They also organize and  manage the performers table as well and make it their business to have that extra bit of knowledge about the performers and their product to help enhance sales.   On Friday and Saturday night with help from other volunteers, they make sure that CDs are at the Lodge for additional sales.

This all consuming job can be stressful at times, but every year they show up with smiling faces ready for the challenge.

MIKE & MARY JO LEPAGE have been wonderful supporters of Buckeye for many years. 

You'll see Mike driving the golf carts from early Wednesday until the last person leaves on Sunday.  Mary Jo does so many things that we know, but many things we don't even know to help make BDF a success.   

I was looking for a nice posed picture for Mike and Mary Jo, but this one seems more in character.  You just never know what's going to happen when Mike and Mary Jo are around.





Last updated:  November 3, 2017
Webmatician: Shari Wolf

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