2019 National Old Time Fiddlers Contest report

Once again this month, musicians descended upon the little town of Weiser, Idaho for the National Oldtime Fiddlers Contest and Festival (NOTFC).

Plenty of folks of all ages come to compete, but even more come to jam, and to meet and play with the amazing assortment of really friendly and high level pickers. Folks come from all over the country and even some foreign countries every year. There are also loads of workshops, both organized by the Contest folks and by the campers in the campground which teach all sorts of musical instruments and styles – and even pie making.

The NOTFC is an organization focused on charitable and educational purposes, preserving and promoting traditional fiddle styles and related arts. For the contests one must play three tunes – a hoedown, a waltz, and a tune of choice – and there are multiple rounds to most contests as well. The contestants are broken up into divisions based on age as well as a few based on style.

The Weiser area has a long history of these fiddle contests. This one has been running since 1953, though at its inception, it was called the Northeast Mountain Fiddler’s Contest and was held in the intermissions of the Annual Square Dance Festival. It has gone through a couple of names, and settled into its current title in 1963. The town of Weiser generally has a population of 5,200 people, and the locals warmly welcome all the pickers with their signs and friendly manner for the two weeks that the musicians camp out and make their music. The hospitality and friendliness really adds to the whole atmosphere that calls the family and community of pickers back year after year.

There are the very serious, big prize money contests, but there are also some more relaxed contests that go on during the festival. There are the Certified Contests, where folks who have won first place at other festivals can compete for titles like “fanciest costume,” and aim to entertain and amuse the audience. There were also fun contests across the street in the campground and museum areas with categories like the very fun “who can get the guitar pick out of the guitar the fastest.”

The festival in Weiser is a truly special place and a magical event because of the sense of community, and the sincere love of music that is shared by so many who attend. Countless people have come to this festival in Weiser, and have become truly inspired and motivated to learn more about traditional music and history, to become better musicians, and also come back year after year because of the friends they have made. They all eventually become members of a community, and like members of a large music family.

Thank you so much to the staff and the large number of volunteers who bring this event together every year.

(Photo gallery follows results)

The Grand Champion

5.  Maddie Denton (Murfeesboro, Tennessee)
4.  Tashina Clarridge (Mount Shasta, California)
3.  Ridge Roberts (Granbury, Texas)
2.  Tristan Clarridge (Mount Shasta, California)
1.  Katrina Nicolayeff (Maridian, Idaho)

Katrina Nicolayeff

Tashina Clarridge

Senior Senior Division

5.  Paul Dickerson
4.  Mabel Vogt
3.  Hughie Smith
2.  Akiyasu Sumi (He comes all the way from Yokohama City, Japan.)
1.  Vivian Williams (She has been attending the contest for 51 years.)

Senior Division

5.  “Fiddlin” Joe Osborn
4.   Starr McMullen
3.  Aaron Lowe
2.  Marcia Denton
1.  Joe Sites

Adult Division

5.  Julie Miller
4.  Jaydean Ludiker
3.  Andy Emert
2.  Cody Stadelmaier
1.  Jacie Sites

Jacie Sites

Young Adult Division

5.  Alex Sharps
4.  Shelby Murdock
3.  Justin Sherfey
2.  Aarun Carter
1.  Celeste Johnson

Junior Division

5.  Nathaniel Copeland
4.  Jessa Preston
3.  Leah Bowen
2.  Julian Oliver
1.  Grace Partidge

Junior Junior Division

5.  Lillian Arnold Mages
4.  Preston Marriott
3.  Tarquin Bennion
2.  Logan Davis
1.  Teo Quale

Small Fry Division

5.  Adrienne Jensen
4.  McKenna Petersen
3.  Tristan Paskvan
2.  Aspen Dietrich
1.  Josephine Arnold Mages

Small Fry McKenna Peterson

Small Fry Josephine Arnold Mages

Swing Fiddle 18 and Over

5.  Vi Wickam
4.  Celeste Johnson
3.  Maddie Denton
2.  Paul Anastasio
1.  Katie Glassman

Swing Fiddle 17 and Under

5.  Rachel Beck
4.  Ranelle Dietrich
3.  Lillian Arnold Mages
2.  Maria McArthur
1.  Miles Quale

National Twin Fiddle

5.  Madi Dietrich, Danielle Dietrich
4.  Miles Quake, Maria McArther
3.  Kenny Blacklock, Katy Bridges
2.  Eliza Beck, Rachel Beck
1.  Jessa Preston, Grace Partridge

Accompanist Awards

5.  Ed Miller – 56 times on stage
4.  Hyatt Hopkins – 67 times on stage
3.  Ridge Roberts – 80 times on stage
2.  Rod Anderson – 84 times on stage
1.  Joey McKenzie – 92 times on stage

Monday Certified Contest Winners

  • Mabel Vogt – Best Female entertainer
  • Judy McGarvey – Best Costume
  • Emelie Miller – Fanciest Fiddler
  • Paul Makela – Best Male Entertainer

Tuesday Night Certified Contest Winners

  • Cynthia Hamm – Best Female Entertainer
  • Matt Renner – Fanciest Fiddler
  • Grant Wheeler – Best Male Entertainer

Wednesday Night Certified Contest Winners

  • Evelyn Taft – Best Costume
  • Lorelei Hein – Fanciest Fiddler
  • Adrienne Jensen – Best Female Entertainer
  • Cash Niehenke – Best Male Entertainer

Youngest Fiddler Award

  • Jayne Huguenin (age 4)

Oldest Fiddler Award

  • Hughie Smith (He is from Gustine, California. He has been coming to Weiser since 1976 and has won the fiddling contest 11 times. He is 86 years old.)

The contests across the street in the campground areas are below.

Intermediate Banjo Contest

3.  Liam Hamilton and Lovi Gilbert (tie)
2.  Mia Edsall
1.  Kim Ray

Advanced Banjo Contest

3.  Maria McArthur
2.  Jordan Snow and Kevin Dreyer (tie)
1.  Gary Eller

Banjo-Fiddle Contest

3.  Lillian Arnold & John April
2.  Petra Shwartoff & Jason Homey
1.  Vi Wickam & Maria McArthur (tie)
1.  Katrina Nicolayoff & Gary Eller (tie)

Trick Fiddling

3.  Jason, Hannah, Athey, and Bjorg Young, Boise
2.  Lillian and Josephine Arnold-Mages, Boston
1.  McKenna Petersen, Fulcher (TX)

Getting the Pick Out of the Guitar Contest

3.  Penny Manning, Boise
2.  Brett Carpenter, New Meadows (ID)
1.   Barbara Kemp, Boise