2023 Ashe County Bluegrass and Old Time Fiddlers’ Convention

The 52nd annual Ashe County Bluegrass and Old Time Fiddlers’ Convention (held every July at Ashe County Park in Jefferson, NC) is in the books for 2023. The event is sponsored by the Ashe County Arts Council, which is committed to preserving and honoring the musical heritage of their community. All proceeds generated by the convention go to support the Ashe County Chapter of the JAM Program (Junior Appalachian Musicians). 

JAM is an afterschool program for students who desire to learn traditional old time and bluegrass music. JAM provides instruction on fiddle, banjo, and guitar for students in third through eighth grade at Ashe Civic Center in West Jefferson, NC. Its mission is, “to provide communities with the tools and support they need to teach children to play, and dance to, traditional old time and bluegrass music. We believe that children who are actively engaged in traditional mountain music are more connected and better prepared to strengthen their communities for future generations.”

Joni Ray, Ashe County Arts Council Executive Director, expressed…

“The Ashe County Arts Council was so pleased to continue the 52 year tradition of the Fiddlers’ Convention. We had a great weekend out at Ashe Park with kick-off concerts on Friday featuring two of our local groups, Kelley and the Cowboys and the Crooked Road Ramblers. Saturday was a full day of competitions in youth and adult. We were so pleased with the turnout of our competitors and appreciated all the talent they brought to the stage. Some of my favorite performers are always in the youth category, as they are the future of traditional music in the High Country, and we had some really advanced youth competitors this year. We had a brief whirlwind of weather Saturday evening and we’d like to extend our thanks to everyone for staying safe and also sticking around to finish up the competitions that evening. Our gratitude goes out to everyone involved including the staff at the park and the sponsors for helping to keep the generations of traditional music alive here in Ashe County.”

Dale Morris serves as the musical event’s emcee. His daughter, Brett Morris, is the executive director of JAM (based in Independence, VA). There are some 50 plus chapters scattered through the mountain counties of North Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, South Carolina, and West Virginia. 

Dale shared, “I have been MCing at the Ashe County Fiddlers since 2014, and it’s always a favorite as the Ashe County Arts Council are wonderful folks. Also, the Ashe County Park is perhaps the prettiest spot ever picked for a fiddlers’ convention.”

Michael Plumley, a contestant from Deer Creek, WV, agreed. “This is a nice festival in a beautiful setting. (There’s lots of) friendly folks over there in Ashe County. (It’s) one to put on your calendar for next year.”

The next Ashe County Fiddlers’ Convention will be held July 26-27, 2024.

$4,350 in prize money was awarded this year.

2023 winners were:


Bass fiddle

  1. Judah Davis
  2. Margaret Walker
  3. Emme Davis

Bluegrass banjo

  1. Josiah Wilkerson
  2. River Smith

Bluegrass fiddle

  1. River Smith
  2. Josephine Walker
  3. Sylvie Davis


  1. Sawyer Smith
  2. Noah Lanham
  3. Emme Davis


  1. Hudson Mikeal
  2. Judah Davis
  3. Isaac Osborne

Old time banjo

  1. Bayla Davis
  2. Silas Lowe
  3. Everly Davis

Old time fiddle

  1. Sam Wilkerson
  2. Rosemary Walker
  3. Sylvie Davis


  1. The Carolina Cowboys and Maggie
  2. New Found Gap
  3. Pickin’ Thistles



  1. Penny Kilby
  2. Virgil Adams
  3. Josh Beckworth

Bass fiddle

  1. Lloyd Richardson
  2. Bryan Osborne
  3. Michael Plumley

Bluegrass fiddle

  1. Josephine Walker
  2. Charlie Tolbert

Bluegrass banjo

  1. Steve Lewis
  2. Isaac Osborne
  3. Frankie Key
  4. George Jesse
  5. River Smith


  1. Maggie Chitwood
  2. Beth Roten


  1. Steve Kilby
  2. Danny Casstevens
  3. Eva Casstevens

Folk song

  1. Maggie Chitwood
  2. Kelly Snyder
  3. Robbie Herman
  4. Meredith Wilkerson
  5. Josephine Walker


  1. Steve Lewis
  2. Brandon Graybeal
  3. Graydon Shepherd
  4. Danny Casstevens
  5. Austin Mikeal


  1. Greg Blevins
  2. William Roberts
  3. Brandon Graybeal
  4. Eva Casstevens
  5. Jason Miller

Old time banjo

  1. Trish Kilby Fore
  2. Robbie Herman
  3. Jacob Johnson
  4. Bayla Davis
  5. Brock Greer

Old time fiddle

  1. Lucas Paisley
  2. Kevin Fore
  3. Sam Wilkerson
  4. Mecca Lowe
  5. Josh Beckworth

Bluegrass band

  1. Bryan Osborn and the Ashe Mtn Boys
  2. Creek Junction
  3. Wilkes Record Players

Old time band

  1. Gap Wild
  2. New Found Gap

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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.