2023 Highfalls Fiddlers’ Convention winners

First place band, Passin’ Thru (Rodney Haywood, CH Lineberry, Jim Damron, Dwayne Runyon)

After a three-year hiatus due to COVID, the 85th annual Highfalls Fiddlers’ Convention returned to the North Moore High School auditorium in Robbins, NC. Under the leadership of new promoter, Miranda Smith, along her committee, the annual acoustic talent show was brought back after its former hosts, Highfalls Elementary School, decided to focus their fundraising efforts in another direction.

Smith, a 22-year-old NC State student explained her involvement. “I’m just someone who used to attend (the event) as a kid while I was (a student) at Highfalls/North Moore.”

Hating to see the annual bluegrass competition cease, Miranda stepped up to the plate, rolled up her sleeves, and went to work. Her efforts paid off.

MC for the event, Big T Lassiter, announced from stage, “They ran out of arm bands (at the ticket booth). We have had over 600 in attendance.”

Winners for this year’s competition were:


  1. Passin’ Thru
  2. Once in a Blue Moon
  3. Franklinville Express


  1. Sachie Sharp
  2. Sam Hill
  3. Keith Dunn


  1. Jack Ritter
  2. Rodney Haywood
  3. Tom Hyatt


  1. Alex Meredith
  2. Dwayne Runyon
  3. John Bishop


  1. CH Lineberry
  2. John Michael Hill
  3. Cooper Marona


  1. John Fogleman
  2. Jimmy Damron
  3. Travis Brady


  1. Daniel Smith
  2. Pammy Davis Lassiter
  3. Sandy Hatley


  1. Teresa Marley
  2. Anita Bishop
  3. Justin Davis


  1. Brad Davis
  2. Jimmie Harrington
  3. Kathy Schilling

Judges’ Choice Award

  • Gracie Arnett (vocal/guitar)

Most Outstanding Adult

  • Alex Meredith (mandolin)

Youth winners:


  1. Elliot King
  2. Miles Welch
  3. Nolan Garner


  1. Cameron Edenfield


  1. Jacob Hill


  1. Chelsea Edenfield

Outstanding Youth Performance

  • Chelsea Edenfield

Theron Caviness Memorial Best Banjo Award

  • Jack Ritter

Theron Caviness (who passed away in 2019 at age 94) was remembered when his banjo-picking son, Elton, took the stage and presented Ritter the second annual Theron Caviness Best Banjo Player Award. Ritter was also the recipient of the memorial at the last convention held in 2019. The young banjoist was awarded a plaque and $100. 

The elder Caviness first attended Highfalls Fiddlers’ Convention as a listener in 1937. He learned to play music on a homemade four string banjo with a cat skin head, and formed a band with his brother, uncle, and cousin. They called themselves the Red Star Boys and began competing at area fiddlers’ conventions. Over the next 25 years, Theron, a Moore County native, picked banjo. After developing arithritis, he switched to bass fiddle and continued to compete, even winning the first bass prize at the Highfalls Convention in 2017 at age 92. 

His son, Elton, who performed for years with his dad in their band, Solid Rock Bluegrass, referenced his father’s legacy. “He has been an inspiration to many people, especially those that started playing music at an early age. He was always complimenting their talent and encouraging them to stick with their instrument, practice hard, and one day reap the benefits.”

Plans are already underway for the 86th annual Highfalls Fiddlers’ Convention next year. It will return to its original date, the second weekend in March, between Star and Seagrove’s talent competitions, all located in central North Carolina.

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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.