The Bluegrass Heritage Foundation has announced the launch of a new contest festival in Kernersville, NC with the winners pre-registered for the Walnut Valley National Championship competition in Winfield, KS.
Billed as the North Carolina State Championships for banjo, mandolin, and guitar, the inaugural event is scheduled to run August 20-21 at The Brewer’s Kettle in Kernersville NC. Registration opens July 1, with the contests open to the first ten North Carolina residents who sign up online. The registration fee is $15 per entry.
There is no charge to watch the competitions, which will run from 6:00 to 9:30 p.m. on Friday, August 20 and 2:00 to 9:30 p.m. on Saturday, August 21. Food and beverages will be available on site.
The individual winners of the banjo, guitar, and mandolin contests will be awarded a $500 prize, the title of the 2021 North Carolina State Champion, a commemorative plaque, a paid entry to attend the 2021 Walnut Valley Festival in Winfield, and the right to compete there in the 2021 National Championship, held September 15-19. Cash prizes will also go to second and third place finishers.
In order to pre-qualify for winner registration at Walnut Valley, this contest will follow their prescribed formula.
The contests will be administered in a manner consistent with the National Championship contests held each year at the Walnut Valley Festival in Winfield, Kansas. Judges will be isolated in a separate judging room and will not see the contestants. To ensure fairness and impartiality, players will be referred to only by their contestant number and will not be allowed to speak on the contest stage. Judges will listen to each contestant over a speaker that reproduces the sound of the contestant only, with no mix from any accompanist who may be present. Contestant scores and the identity of the judges will remain confidential.
Bluegrass Heritage Foundation president Alan Tompkins tells us about the spark behind this new contest.
“We are thrilled to present our first event in North Carolina, a state rich in musical heritage and youthful talent. The inspiration for this event came to our Foundation Championship Director, Lucas White, after the passing of legendary guitarist Tony Rice last December. Lucas was a close friend of Tony and his family, and he knew how much Tony loved his North Carolina home. The Championships are meant to honor Tony’s life and musical accomplishments by encouraging talented players to hone their skills and make more incredible bluegrass music happen in North Carolina.”
Tomorrow, June 8, would have been Tony’s 70th birthday. What a fitting tribute to this giant of bluegrass music.
You can find all information about the 2021 North Carolina State Championships online.