From left to right: Karen Alley, Bob Webb, Max Krimmel, Bonnie Carol, Heidi Muller, Eric Elliott, Steve Eulberg (festival founder), Dave Firestine and Guy George play the 2015 Colorado Dulcimer Festival.

(Courtesy Dave Jones/Colorado Dulcimer Festival)

Busking on the streets of New York was how Bonnie Carol learned to play the dulcimer. When she relocated to Colorado, Carol says opportunities to gather with other players of the stringed instrument were lacking.

"We dulcimer professionals -- or dulc-o-maniacs as we are fondly known as -- travel all over the country and perform," Carol says. "If you live in the East, you can go to a dulcimer festival almost every weekend, but there were no festivals between Kansas City and San Francisco."

To make up for this dulcimer deficit, Steve Eulberg, a player himself, launched the Colorado Dulcimer Festival more than a decade ago. It returns Friday and Saturday at the St. James Presbyterian Church in Littleton, featuring evening concerts, workshops and jam sessions with players from around the country. New this year is traditional contra dance sessions.

Listen to Carol on the hammer dulcimer:

Audio: Bonnie Carol performs "The Stone's Story"