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LERNA -- The distinguished sounds from dulcimer strings seem to lend themselves to travel back in time, and they help set the tune at an event at a site devoted to the 19th Century.

Presentations on dulcimer history as well as their playing and their making were some of the top features Saturday and Sunday at the annual Lincoln Log Cabin State Historic Site Harvest Frolic event.

While visitors saw the carving and other woodworking that go into making the instrument, they also learned that playing their music doesn't have to be complicated.

Mike Anderson of Jacksonville, known as "the Dulcimer Guy" told one group that it can be as simple as using everyday items such as toothpicks and fishing line.

"It costs roughly a buck-and-a-quarter," Anderson said. "It's possible to have a functioning musical instrument and you don't need a lot to get music out of it."

Anderson performed music during the Harvest Frolic, not only with dulcimers but with other instruments including a jaw harp, which he made sure visitors knew was something Abraham Lincoln played.

Referring to the 1840s era portrayed at the historic site, he said a simple, three-string version of a dulcimer was something "people in this time played."

Still, he added, the dulcimer isn't an instrument "stuck in the 1800s," relating that several current musical artists uses them in their recordings.

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Traveling down the site's paths from where Anderson conducted his demonstrations, visitors could also happen upon the carvings and other workings of Steve Vann.

Vann's Shady Grove Woodworking in Cheap Hill, Tenn., produces dulcimers and "some ancestors," as he put it.

"The dulcimer is not that old," he explained while carving piece for a similar-yet-simpler instrument called a zitter.

At yet another area of the historic site, the actual sounds of dulcimer playing could be found in more abundance.

Charleston residents and dulcimer players Bill Lovekamp and Dave Pollard were stationed in the site's Sargent house for performances on the instrument.

Before heading into a tune called "Sweet Song on the Prairie," Lovekamp said his instrument was the type called an Appalachian or mountain dulcimer.

The two-day event also featured several period craft demonstrations along with entertainment and contests.

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Contact Dave Fopay at (217) 238-6858. Follow him on Twitter: @FopayDave

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Dave Fopay is a reporter for the JG-TC who covers Coles County, the local court system, Charleston schools and more.

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