One avenue to help keep old-time fiddle music alive, is the annual Illinois State Old Time Fiddle Contest. An informal group of fiddlers from east central Illinois held the first fiddle contest in 1965 and was officially incorporated in 1966 as the IOTFA. The contest has been operating continuously since 1965 and has a long history of amazing fiddle players. They include six time winner Chlores Worlow, 1984-1986 winner Alison Krauss and more recently, Carrie Talley (2010), Charlie Walden (’95, ’11, ’12 & ’16) and Georgia Rae Mussared, (’13, ’15 & ’17). See the complete list on the Previous Grand Champions page where we include a photo of each when available.
Each contestant may enter one of four divisions:
- Beginner (10 and under)
- Junior (11-19)
- Senior (70 and over)
- Open Division (Nationally Certified!)
The IOTFA awards a trophy and prize money to the top fiddlers in their respective category. Contestants from all areas of Illinois are encouraged to compete.
National Old Time Fiddlers, Inc. Certification
The several “National Champion” fiddle contests organized around the United States generally publish their own set of rules that govern how their contest is judged. The rules vary depending upon the purpose of the contest, the precedence set by other nearby contests, the organizers and other influences. The National Old Time Fiddle Contest held in Weiser, Idaho each June is one of several “national” contests but is considered by many fiddlers to be the final word for who is the national champion fiddler.
The symbol or logo you see on the side bar of many of the pages in this web site represents our relationship with that National Contest. That means that the Illinois Old Time Fiddlers Association has provided the officials of the National Contest a copy of our rules of competition and that they have confirmed that our rules meet the quality and guidelines used by their contest in Weiser, ID. Each year we must renew our certification by a review of our current contest rules and other documents. Certification assures any interested party that our winners have reached a certain level of competency for their division. Although all of our contestants are judged by the same set of rules, we are currently certified by the National Contest only in the “Open” Division. The Open Division winner is given the special title of “Grand Champion.”
The National Old Time Fiddle Contest organization provides the IOTFA with an official Certificate to be awarded to our certified Open Division winner as our Grand Champion. The IOTFA pays the registration fee for the Grand Champion to compete in the National contest but does not provide funds for their travel, food or lodging. Additionally, the IOTFA provides the National Contest an official photo of the Grand Champion to be placed in their national “Hall of Fame.” Our official photos are those taken by the EPC photographer during our fiddle contest.
We are pleased with our certification by the National Old Time Fiddles Contest organization and intend to continue our relationship with the Weiser Contest Organization.