Fiddlers kick out the jams in Hailey
State competition draws Idahos finest fiddlers
By HANS IBOLD
Express Staff Writer
Idahos top fiddlers converge on Hailey this weekend for
the Old Time Fiddlers Association State Competition, which includes concerts, competitions
and informal jam sessions. Photo by Ken Worthington
Its hoedown time in Hailey.
Hundreds of the states most talented fiddlers converge in Hailey
this weekend for three days of competitions and jam sessions as part of the annual Idaho
Old Time Fiddlers Association State Competition.
The main event, the "Idaho Old Time Fiddlers State Contest,"
consists of 10 competitions in several age divisions, including Old-Timers (age 80 and up)
and Small Fries (age 8 and under). Winners of the divisions will head to the National Old
Time Fiddlers Competition held in Weiser, Idaho, in June.
The state contest will be held Saturday starting at 8 a.m. at Wood River
High School in Hailey. The competition runs throughout the day and wraps up with the
finals at 7 p.m. Admission to the finals is $7 for adults and $4 for children under 10.
The Old Time Fiddlers are mostly violinists, but anyone who plays a
stringed instrument qualifies. And the players are not necessarily old-timers. Players at
this years competition range in age from 5 to 95, according to Idaho Old Time
Fiddlers Association member Ken Worthington of Bellevue.
"Old time refers to fiddle music that has been handed
down through the oral tradition and played in such a way that people can dance to
it," Worthington said. "If you cant dance to it, then its not
An event called "Fiddlin Around Town" kicks off the
three-day event Thursday. Fiddlers will perform at different venues around Hailey,
including the Blaine County Senior Center, Blaine Manor, the Hailey Public Library and
schools. Admission is free.
Then theres the "Gamblers Contest and Dance," held Friday
night at 7 at the Hailey Armory. For this event, fiddlers draw a tune from a hat, and play
it if they can or fake italso known as gambling.
During the contest, the Idaho High Country Swingers and the Wood River
Contra Dancers will perform. There will also be a barbecue prior to the contest. Admission
is $6 for adults and $3 for children under 10.
What are the judging criteria? According to the official Idaho Old Time
Fiddlers Association rule book, judges look for "foot-tapping ability." Does the
tune, in other words, make you want to get on the floor and dance? Showmanship will also
be evaluated, which refers to any trick fiddling, singing or special effects that the
In 1960, Idaho Gov. Robert E. Smiley and Fairfields Mannie Shaw
founded the Idaho Old Time Fiddlers Association, the first of its kind in the nation. The
group now has 600 members across the state and holds a popular national competition in
The Idaho Old Time Fiddlers Association State Competition is presented by
the Hailey Chamber of Commerce and Atkinsons Market. For more information, call