2018 Scott Street Five String Finals winners

Jim Hurst (judge), Henry Coatney, Caleb Coatney, Austin Hefflefinger, Claire Childress, Steve Lewis (accompanist),
Taylor Parks, Victor Furtado (judge), Jacob Moretz – photo by Dave Parrish Photography

This past weekend during the Richmond Folk Festival, the winners in the Scott Street Five String Finals were decided. This annual competition is held in honor of Street, a former board member of JAMInc, who died in 2015 from cancer. Known for his commitment to young people learning Appalachian string music, including his service with JAMInc, the contest is a fitting tribute to a great humanitarian as it seeks to find the top banjo players 18 years or younger.

The title of this competition is carefully worded to describe its function. Instead of an open match with multiple rounds to choose a champion, this contest chooses finalists through video submissions, and they duke it out on stage during the festival. Three finalists are chosen for both bluegrass and clawhammer banjo, with their placement determined by live performance.

The six finalists appeared on stage on Sunday in Richmond before a panel of judges consisting of Jim Hurst, James Bailey, Richard Ward, and Victor Furtado.

When the dust had cleared, the results for 2018 were:


  1. Austin Hefflefinger (age 13), Rimersburg, PA
  2. Taylor Parks (age 14), Bloxom, VA
  3. Jacob Moretz (age 13), Boone, NC


  1. Caleb Coatney (age 16), Boone, NC
  2. Claire Childress (age 15), Big Stone Gap, VA
  3. Henry Coatney (age 14), Boone, NC

The winner in each category receives a crystal trophy, plus a $1,000 cash prize and a free recording session.. The first runner up gets $600 and the second $400.

Congratulations and well done to all involved!

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.