2022 Sparta-Alleghany County Fiddlers Convention results

Coyote Ugly, First Place Bluegrass Band at Sparta 2022 – photo by G Nicholas Hancock

After a two-year hiatus due to COVID restrictions, the Sparta-Alleghany Volunteer Fire Department hosted their annual fiddlers convention this past weekend in Sparta, North Carolina for the 26th time. The two-day event began on Friday evening, July 15, and continued on Saturday, July 16, with almost 12 hours of music competition, entertainment, and jamming. Competitors came from North Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, West Virginia, Maryland, Washington state, and Oregon. Held at the Higgins Fairgrounds in northwestern North Carolina, attendees included guests from Canada, Germany, and New Zealand.

The fire department’s Facebook page on the convention states, “The woods around here are full of string musicians who love the longstanding tradition of fiddlers’ conventions in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Proceeds from the convention benefit the Sparta-Alleghany Volunteer Fire Department and future improvements at the nonprofit fairgrounds.”

Tommy Calhoun, Sparta-Alleghany Fire Department member and board member, shared, “We thought we had a good convention since we hadn’t had it for two years due to COVID. It is the primary fund raiser for our fire department.”

Longtime North Carolina bluegrass musician and photographer, Nick Hancock, was present and captured photographs of the event.

“It is my favorite fiddlers’ convention in North Carolina. The fire department staff and other organizers go of out of their way to accommodate you. It has a real family-type feel.

They use musicians for judges so they know what they are looking at and listening to. The competition is varied with individual entries mixed in with the band competition. Everyone enters in no particular order. It provides variety for the listeners and is so entertaining. There was real good jamming going on in the camping area.”

Mandolinist, Connor Lambert, agreed. “It is the best one of them all (fiddlers conventions) as far as I am concerned.”

“Sparta is the best hands down!” Big T Lassiter echoed.

The top 15 bluegrass bands and top 5 old-time bands were selected for a play-off on Saturday evening following the presentation of the youth awards.

Winners for the event were:

Bluegrass Band

  1. Coyote Ugly from Kingsport, TN
  2. Outlaw Bluegrass from Troutman
  3. New River Line from Woodlawn, VA
  4. Paula Dellenback & Fox River from Ararat, VA
  5. Fairfield Bluegrass from Mocksville, NC

Old-Time Band

  1. Slate Mountain Ramblers from Mt. Airy, NC
  2. Stratford String Band from Sparta, NC
  3. New Critter Connection from Damascus, VA
  4. Cabin Creek Boys from Independence, VA
  5. Fly Birds from Winchester, VA

Bluegrass Fiddle

  1. Alec McCallister
  2. John Hofmann
  3. Cheyenne Grantham
  4. Crystal Shipley
  5. Wayne Erbsen

Old-Time Fiddle

  1. Chris Testerman
  2. Lucas Pasley
  3. Anissa Burnet
  4. Brian Grim
  5. Richard Bowman

Bluegrass Banjo

  1. Ayden Young
  2. Danny Bowers
  3. Evan McRoberts
  4. Ronny Harrison
  5. Frankie Key

Old-Time Banjo

  1. Jared Boyd
  2. Marsha Todd
  3. Trish Fore
  4. Cody Jackson
  5. Chris Johnson


  1. Todd Hiatt
  2. Connor Lambert
  3. Adam McPeak
  4. Molly Yates
  5. Chris Martin


  1. Jack Hinshelwood
  2. Cody McGrady
  3. Steve Kilby
  4. Tommy Chandler
  5. Guy Ferguson


  1. Charlie Milliron
  2. Keith Aiken
  3. John Powell
  4. Robert Ellis
  5. Danny Hargis


  1. Sadie Yates
  2. Sophia Burnett
  3. Barbara Bowman
  4. Stacy Boyd
  5. John Farris


  1. John Renwick
  2. Lois Hornbostel
  3. Fred Meyer
  4. Diane Parker
  5. Dick Lamb


  1. Penny Kilby
  2. Vickie Boyd
  3. Virgil Adams
  4. Nellie Zuhlke


  1. Rex Horton
  2. Wayne Childress
  3. Bobby Fields


  1. Anneli Burnett
  2. Shooter Brown
  3. Dennis Joines
  4. Ella Grim
  5. Maggie Valces-Chitwood

Vocal duet

  1. Anissa & Anneli Burnett
  2. Molly & Sadie Yates
  3. Chris Testerman & Wes Clifton
  4. John & Lynne Powell
  5. Payton & Taylor Brown

Bluegrass Fiddle/Banjo Duet

  1. Richard Bowman & Marsha Todd
  2. Peden Williams & Alec McCallister
  3. Travis Branch & John Hofmann
  4. Ted Nixon & Guy Ferguson

Old-Time Fiddle/Banjo Duet

  1. Debbie Yates & Brian Grim
  2. Chris Johnson & Lucas Pasley
  3. Cheyenne & Wyatt Grantham
  4. Mecca & Adam Lowe
  5. Bayla & Sylvie Davis

Senior Dance

  1. Marsha Todd
  2. Barbara Bowman
  3. Cherie Compton
  4. Justin Clayton
  5. Anneli Burnett

Junior Dance

  1. Levi Head
  2. Sam Wilkerson
  3. Candace Noah
  4. Ella Grim
  5. Gracie Terry

Junior Fiddle

  1. Alexander Ferranti
  2. Hunter Hiatt
  3. Sylvie Davis
  4. Sam Wilkerson
  5. Benjamin Ferranti

Junior Banjo

  1. Wyatt Grantham
  2. Bayla Davis
  3. Candace Noah
  4. Jo Wilkerson
  5. Paxton Ashe

Junior Mandolin

  1. Blane Young
  2. Cort Workman
  3. Luke McCallister
  4. Highland Hollifield

Junior Guitar

  1. Gavin Woodruff
  2. Graydon Shepherd
  3. Pierce Workman
  4. Judah Davis
  5. Ethan Wagoner

Junior Bass

  1. Navaeh Coffey
  2. Jett Brooks

MC Dale Morris, concluded, “I’ve been attending the convention since it started back in 1995. I’ve played in the contests a few years, and later was a judge there before becoming one of the stage MCs. The convention is a well-run event that retains its small town friendly atmosphere that is appreciated by the musicians and fans alike. My hat is off to the Sparta-Alleghany Fire Department for their dedication and hard work. We hope to see folks next July 21-22 in Sparta, North Carolina.”

(All photographs taken by G Nicholas Hancock.)

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About the Author

Sandy Hatley

Sandy Chrisco Hatley is a free lance writer for several NC newspapers and Bluegrass Unlimited magazine. As a teenager, she picked banjo with an all girl band called the Happy Hollow String Band. Today, she plays dobro with her husband's band, the Hatley Family.