Mills Music Library, Wisconsin Archives
University of Wisconsin-Madison
728 State Street
Madison, WI 53706
Ron Poast was born in Dodgeville, Wisconsin, in 1940 and grew up on a farm near Blue Mounds in western Dane County. Both of his grandfathers were old time fiddlers who combined Norwegian and American “hillbilly” styles. Like his father, Ron took up guitar and experienced house parties with plenty of music and dancing. On these and other occasions Poast heard old timers speak of hardanger fiddlers like Norway’s legendary Lars Fykerud who performed in nearby Mount Horeb in the early 20th century. Years later, he saw a hardanger fiddle for the first time on display in a Mount Horeb shop window. Already an accomplished wood and metal worker, classic car restorer, auto mechanic, and luthier, Poast traveled to the Vesterheim Museum in Decorah, Iowa, to examine hardanger fiddles and by the mid-1980s he had become an accomplished hardanger fiddle-maker. In 1998 he was a featured craftsperson at the Smithsonian Institution’s Festival of American Folklife in Washington, D.C. And in 2003 he was awarded a National Heritage Fellowship by the National Endowment for the Arts, the nation’s highest honor for a traditional artist.