2017 - Third place went to a person who is making only his second time to enter this contest. Michael Poole of Chapel Hill, NC made the cut to the final 5 in the 2016 competition. Michael is a Physician’s Assistant who says he is about to retire. He likes to attends other festivals like Mountain Laurel. Michael also plays the piano, mountain dulcimer and the guitar. His favorite thing to do in Winfield is jam out in the campgrounds. His hobbies include horses, singing and gardening.
2017 - Second place was awarded to Karen Nickel of Winfield, KS. Karen wasn’t going to enter the competition this year, but the first place winner, Cindy Harris caller her at 7:30 AM one morning and convinced her to enter, and it paid off for her. Karen is has attended the Festival for the past 24 years and lives just a stone’s throw away from the Festival grounds. Karen says her two hobbies are, of course, the autoharp and geocaching.
Matt Thomas of Virginia Beach, VA was awarded third place by the judges. He considers himself a guitar performer. This was Matt’s first time to Winfield and the Festival. He has attended other festivals like Merle fest and the Chet Atkins Appreciation Society as well as the Harp Guitar Gatherings. As mentioned before, he also plays the harp guitar. One of his favorite things to do is compose music. Matt takes back to VA the Larrivee LV10E Deluxe Guitar by Jean Larrivee Guitars of Oxnard, CA as his prize and that was in addition to the 3rd Place Trophy.
Travis Bowman of Alexander, AR placed second in this competition. He says this is his second time to enter this competition. Last year he made the cut to five. He attends other festivals in the greater AR area and loves the competition. Friends urged him to come the first time and when he tasted the competition he just had to come back. Travis plays the piano and an instrument called the Chinese violin. Of the Festival Travis said he has wanted to come to Winfield and the Festival since he was a kid.