At the National Old Time Fiddle Contest at Weiser, Idaho  
June 14-15, 2014 at the Old Weiser Institute

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Preliminaries    3-5pm and 7-9pm Saturday, June 14
Finals               7-9pm Sunday, June 15          

Last year’s banjo contest was a big success so we’re going to continue!  The location will be the same as last year – the beautiful lawn under the trees north of Slocum and Hooker Hall.  The campus gymnasium will be used if weather is inclement. We are thankful for the generosity of Mike Mulvaney, who owns the lawn we’ll use for the contest and graciously allows us to use it again.

There are several important changes in 2014.  One big change in response to the unexpected number of contestants we had last year is that we will have a preliminary contest on Saturday. The top five contestants in each category will have a final shoot out on Sunday evening. A second big change is that we have expanded the contest to four categories: 

Old time
Open (plectrum, classical, other)        
Banjo plus fiddle (no accompaniment)

The new banjo plus fiddle category is not limited by genre (e.g., old time, bluegrass, and Celtic are all fine) but supporting instruments will not be allowed.  Rhythm provided by foot tapping or dancing by the banjo and/or fiddler players is fine. The idea is to provide a competition category that gets back to the bare essentials of banjo and fiddle playing.

In addition, we will have a banjo joke contest judged by audience response.  Banjo jokesters will do their best to please the audience between banjo contestants.

To keep things manageable, we will limit the number of entries to ten for each of the four categories. Judging will not be blind this year since we found it hard to do outdoors.  There will be a different team of three expert judges for each of the four banjo categories.

Our intent is to keep the banjo contest “down home” and fun, not about cash prizes and cutthroat competition.  We had a lot of compliments last year about having things that way.  And we were told the homemade Weiser pie prizes were especially valued.  And so the winners in each category this year will receive large, medium or small pies for 1st, 2nd or 3rd place.  In addition, winners will receive simple trophies and performance spots at a banjo extravaganza on the bluegrass stage downtown.
As was the case last year, there will be no entry fees for the 2014 contest but we will pass the hat to recover direct expenses associated with the banjo contest.



Banjo Contest Rules
As was the case last year, rules are adapted from the 2013 Vandalia Gather held annually in Charleston, W. Va., sponsored by the W. Va. Division of Culture and History.

  1. Signup will be from 10am to 2:30pm on Saturday, June 16 at Slocum Hall.
  2. Contestants will be taken on first come/first serve basis until the ten slots have been taken.
  3. Contestants may enter a second category if the maximum of ten entries has not been reached by the close of signup.
  4. Order of competition in each category will be determined by random drawing.
  5.  Judges can compete in a category they are not judging.
  6. Contestants will have four minutes to complete two tunes. Points will be deducted for overruns.
  7. Contestants may have a maximum of two accompanists except for the banjo plus fiddle category where no accompanists are permitted.
  8. Medleys and vocals are not acceptable.
  9. Scoring will not credit crowd-pleasing tunes.
  10. Electric instruments are not allowed.
  11. A single condenser microphone will be provided.
  12. In case of a broken string or major tuning problem, the contest may replay without penalty.

Scoring Criteria (equal weight)

  1. Intonation – Tuning and tonal qualities
  2. Timing – Accurate, strong and consistent rhythm
  3. Difficulty – Complexity of selections
  4. Technique – Dexterity in performance
  5. Selection – Choice of tunes appropriate to category

Questions? Contact Gary Eller at or Sandy Cooper at .

This page was last updated on January 17, 2014.