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Hi to all,


   The monthly old fiddlers third Sunday meeting/jam is scheduled for April 18, 2021, 2-5 pm.  In view of the virus situation the rules are: stay at home if you’re sick, social distancing as much as possible and masks are optional, as typical for the Effingham area.

This will be updated as needed.


Short History of the Illinois Old Time Fiddle Association

 Jerry W. Ellis, Secretary

The IOTFA was organized in 1965 and incorporated in 1966 by the Charter Members listed below, centered around Shelbyville, IL.  Monthly meetings were held on the third Sunday of each month where round and square dancing was an important part of the activities.  A pot luck was offered after which more fiddle music and the dancing continued.   I joined the organization during the meeting of August of 1972 along with Chlores Worlow who went on to win the annual fiddle contest six times.  (I played backup guitar and bass in that era.)  My membership was preceded by that of our current President, Junior Hobson and his wife Daisy, and Gary and Linda Hagy, who, along with Melody (Staff) Freeman, are the longest living members of that early 1970’s era, as far as I know.  We all knew and played music with Ernie and Deloris Ringo, Archie Smothers, and Owen (Odie) Griffith of the charter members.  Other backup musicians included Dale Wilson, Bill Morris, Gary Hagy and Claude Idleman.   Of the various contest winners, Alison Krauss, who won the contest three years in a row, is probably the best known nationally.  We met in the early 1980’s when her parents brought her and her brother, Viktor who played bass, to our bluegrass jam sessions at Eastern Illinois University held each semester.

Although I spent 40 years playing bluegrass I frequented the monthly meetings and the annual contests during that time then rejoined the IOTFA in about 2000.  Junior and Daisy Hobson have been the force that has maintained the organization for many years.  Many very fine fiddlers and backup musicians have populated the meetings during the life of IOTFA.  Ernie Ringo and Chlores Worlow both recorded vinyl albums as well as Gene Wilhite, from Brazil, IN, who also attended many of the Shelbyville IOTFA meetings.  Our 2018 and third time Grand Champion is Charlie Walden, who is originally from Missouri.  Charlie has gained national exposure via Facebook, You Tube and other avenues and is well known in fiddler circles around the states.  His wife, Pat, accompanies him on keyboard, an old standard backup instrument (piano) for fiddlers.  Deloris Ringo did the same for Ernest Ringo on an actual piano.  Most fiddlers also play guitar as well because it helps them better understand chord structure.  Ernest and Chlores each played guitar, and probably others.

On the younger side, Georgia Rae Mussared, has been our Grand Champion three times.  She does a very fine job,  playing left handed, and has a bright future in the business.  She, with her family band, has recently been on a tour.  Our current 2019 Grand Champion is fifteen year old Beth Davis, who also place first in the Junior Division.

Ernest and Deloris loved Texas style fiddling and enjoyed many trips to TX to play with friends in that area.  They spent considerable time with one family in particular, the parents of Byron Berline   I actually learned of the connection by Byron asking me about them.  Byron is a well known fiddler, now living in Guthrie, OK where he owns and operates the “Double Stop Fiddle Shop” and continues to be quite active with a great band of talented musicians.

   The IOTFA charter members are listed below.

Charter Members

Ernest & Deloris Ringo

Ernest & Deloris Ringo

Ernest Ringo

Deloris Ringo

Owen Griffith

Homer Little

Archie Smothers

Woodrow Groves

Homer Jones

Melvin Holley

The Fiddle Fest

The “Fiddle Fest” is the term we’ve adopted to include all the activities that occur on the weekend of the Annual Fiddle Contest, which is clearly the major effort of the IOTFA.  The previous Secretary, Ann White Crawford, made some significant contributions to the quality of the contest by introducing a jam type activity on the Saturday evening just previous to the Sunday contest.  This has progressed to the current practice of having an open jam session on Saturday afternoon starting at 5:00 pm followed by one or more band performances at 7:30 pm.  When we say “contest” we typically mean the entire weekend.