Super Senior: George Haggerty

Published: Dec. 8, 2022 at 3:37 PM EST
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JACKSONVILLE, Vt. (WCAX) - In the village of Jacksonville, Vermont, there are sounds of the South.

Every day, George Haggerty plays one of his handmade Appalachian dulcimers. An American instrument with roots going back to the early 1800s. “The Scotts, Irish, that moved into the Appalachian Mountains brought with them the old folks songs,” Haggerty said.

The folk music fanatic was so enthralled by the string instrument he left his industrial arts teaching job in Connecticut and moved with his wife, Mary, to Windham County and opened a dulcimer shop.

Reporter Joe Carroll: Why do you like this instrument so much?

George Haggerty: Well, it’s just the sweetness of the sound. It’s a very easy instrument to play, difficult to master.

The store has closed but not the business. In his home-workshop, the 81-year-old is busy making the instruments. “What I’m doing now is planing down the sides,” he explained. “I’ve got three in progress... This one I’m working on now is all cherry... It’s like the birth of a new child, each one has a different voice and you always hope for success.”

George Haggerty: I can only do a little at a time...

Reporter Joe Carroll: Do you find it harder as you get older?

George Haggerty: Yes.

His love of folk music goes back to the golden era of folk music. He’d travel down to New York City in the late ‘50s and early ‘60s to listen to groups like the Kingston Trio. “Woody Guthrie was big,” Haggerty said.

Reporter Joe Carroll: So you saw all these people?

George Haggerty: I sure did. I used to see Bob Dylan on the street.

Ever the performer, Haggerty started his own music festival. August Dulcimer Daze is in its 30th year of bringing musicians to the Green Mountains.

Reporter Joe Carroll: So this is your Woodstock.

George Haggerty: This is my Woodstock, continuous, yeah.

Woodstock albeit without the speakers and the masses, though Haggerty says the festival still reaches a high note. One thing that I’ve noticed, if you share music with somebody, it’s very personal. So, you become friends pretty quickly,” he said.

Each dulcimer is different, but like Haggerty - in harmony.