Contest Rules

Judging Rules and Regulations

General Regulations

1. No electric or amplified instruments will be permitted in any category.

2. No drums permitted in any category.

3. Contestants performing in the individual performer categories may perform unaccompanied or with one or two accompanists. Accompanists must not play melody. Contestant must not use sheet music.

4. Any category with less than four entrants may be cancelled.

5. Any performer winning first place in a category two years in succession must lay out for one year before competing again in the category in which they won first place.

6. No contestant is allowed to register after draw for playing position has started.

7. If a contestant is not ready to play, at the time their name is called, they will be disqualified.

8. Judging will be based on 100 points per each tune or song. Scores will be based on Scoring will be based on execution, difficulty, danceability/timing, tone, style, and intonation. Scores from elimination rounds will be added to final round scores for an overall cumulative score. 

9. In the event of a tie, a one-tune playoff will be held. Fiddlers will be required to play a breakdown. Tie breaker scores will not be added into the cumulative score. No tunes played in elimination or finals may be played in the tie breaker.

10. One false start per performance will be allowed (a bad start, wrong beginning of tune, starting tune other than that intended). Allowance will also be made for string dropping out of tune, or string breaking on contestant or accompanists.

11. Playing in such manner as to not be able to recognize the melody easily will result in lost points.

12. All contestants are asked to limit time on stage to six minutes. Judges will deduct points if performance becomes too long and/or repetitive.

13. Contestants are asked to hold personal comments until after the judging for their category is completed. They may give the name of the tunes to be played.

14. Contestants who perform in the finals are not allowed to duplicate the songs they performed in the elimination.

15. Contest organizers reserve the right to change or modify contest rules prior to the start of the competition. A copy of finalized rules will be available at the registration table prior to the start of the contest.

16. Contest organizers reserve the right to alter the time schedule, order of categories, or number of tunes to be played as needed.


Category Rules

1. Fiddle - Contest is for four string fiddles only and is divided into four age groups: Junior Junior - age 10 and under; Junior - age 11-18; Adult - age 19-59; Senior - age 60 and over. Contestants will be allowed to compete only in their age appropriate category. Except in the Hot Fiddle division, trick fiddling or tunes like: "Listen to the Mocking Bird," Orange Blossom Special," or "Black Mountain Rag" are not allowed. Play should be Old-Time Style - Danceable.

* For both elimination and final rounds, contestants will be required to play a waltz , a breakdown (reels and hornpipes will be accepted as breakdowns; rags and polkas are not accepted as breakdowns) and a tune of choice. Tune of choice may be any tune other than a breakdown or waltz. Junior Junior Fiddlers play one waltz and one breakdown.

2. Bluegrass Banjo - The following tunes are not allowed - Foggy Mountain Breakdown, John Hardy, Earls Breakdown and John Henry. Contestants must play two tunes of their choice.

3. Guitar - 2 categories: Flat Picking Guitar and Thumb Picking Guitar - Only acoustic flat top guitars will be accepted. Both categories are required to play two tunes of a traditional nature. Thumb-pick required in Thumb Picking category and contestant must play traditional thumb-style songs of choice.

4. Mandolin - Only acoustic mandolins allowed. Rules otherwise same as guitar.

5. Harmonica - Only ten hole, single reed harmonicas allowed. No chromatics. Must play tunes of the traditional nature. Contestants must play two tunes of their choice.

6. Bluegrass Band - Tune restrictions same as Bluegrass Banjo. Must have no less than three band members and not more than six members.  Bands may do vocals, but not required. No band member is allowed to perform in more than one band except for bass player. Bands will play two tunes of their choice during both elimination and final rounds of competition.  If you play a known tune, it must be accepted as authentic bluegrass; however, original material is also allowed.

7. Old Time Singing - Contestants are encouraged to pick songs which were written before 1950. Contestants are to perform two songs during elimination and final rounds of competition.

8. Hot Fiddle - Fiddlers are allowed to play any tune of their choice and will be judged by the audience. 

9. Dobro - Only square neck resphonic guitars allowed. Contestant must play two tunes of the traditional nature and may be unaccompanied or have one or two accompanists.

10. Clogging - Free-style clogging. Contestants will dance one time in both eliminations and finals. Taps will be permitted, but not required. Time limit is 30 seconds.

11. Best Rhythm Person - Judges will watch performances of all back up performers in all categories during the contest and the winner will be announced at the close of the contest.