General Contest Rules
Registration must be completed/received by December 31, 2023, mail-in or online, for contestants to receive two free admission tickets. Free admission tickets will be given to contestants only. Money will be refunded to anyone who paid an entry fee and cannot attend, if they inform the committee of withdrawal prior to the start of the contest. Discount rates will be given to COTFA members whose dues are current,
Individual fiddle contestants may compete in one fiddle division (their age division or the Texas style open division) and the Bob Wills Swing Fiddle Division. Registration for the Twin Fiddle division will be on Sunday morning, January 7, 2024. There will be a maximum of 5 pairs, on a first come/first serve basis.
Contestants must confirm pre-registration by checking in at the registration desk. For those who did not pre-register, contestants must register at least 1 hour prior to the beginning of their division.
The order of appearance for all rounds will be drawn randomly by a committee member and posted. Contestants must be ready to play when notified.
Jake Jabs Guitar Accompanist Division: CFC staff guitarists will judge the guitar accompanist division. Guitar accompanist will select a fiddle player to play with them during their round. They will play two contrasting tunes in round 1 and round 2. Judges have the discretion to limit number of songs played in round 2. They cannot repeat the same songs. The top three from the first round will progress to day two for the second round and championship.
Fiddle Divisions: Fiddle contestants may play with or without an accompanist. There are no restrictions on the number of accompanists. If a string breaks the contestant has the option to continue or stop at that point. If the tune is completed it will be judged as played. If the contestant chooses to stop, due to a broken string they will be allowed to begin with that same tune and complete the round without penalty.
Fiddle contestants at each appearance must play a hoedown, a waltz and a tune of choice, which is designated as anything other than a waltz or a breakdown. Tunes may be played in any order. No contestant shall play the same tune more than once during the contest. If there are more than 10 registrants in a division, contestants might be instructed to only play 1-2 tunes of their choice in order to stay on schedule. In the first round there is a five-minute playing time limit for all divisions, except for the Open Championship division, the Bob Wills Swing Fiddle division and Novice division. There will be a 10-point deduction for each 30 seconds over the five-minute time limit. The contest committee has the discretion to adjust the number or type of tunes played.
The top five fiddle contestants from each division from day one will progress to day two/round 2 to play in the championship round.
Texas Style-Open Division: This division is open to contestants of any age. This is a higher level of competition. The contest committee will choose the playing order. There will be a total of 3 rounds. There are no time limits. Contestants are asked to present a performance demonstrating Texas Style. Please present your tunes in the traditional manner and build within the context of the tune and the style.
There are no time limits. In round 1 contestant will play a breakdown, waltz and tune of choice (that is not a second breakdown). The number of contestants will determine how many will progress to round 2. In round 2 contestants will play a breakdown, waltz and tune of choice, though the contest committee has the discretion to limit the number of tunes played.
The top 3 contestants from round 2 will progress to round 3 and play Round Robin-style for the championship. In round 3, the judges will determine the style and number of tunes to be played.
Contestants must be available for all callbacks and have 5 minutes to report to the contest director once they are notified.
Bob Wills Swing Fiddle Division: Fiddle contestants must play tunes associated with Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys! Judges ask contestants to play reasonably within the boundaries of Western swing style. Contestants will have the freedom to play it straight or swing like crazy! Since this is a judged fiddle division, we ask that contestants keep the fiddle as the only lead instrument (singing and band performances will be allowed, but only the fiddling will be judged). There is no time limit but less than 6 minutes is recommended.
Contestants will play 1 tune on day one. The top five contestants from day one will progress to day two/round 2 for the championship round. Contestants will play 1 tune on day 2, which must be different than the tune played from day 1.
Twin Fiddle Division: Two fiddle players per entry – no age limit. There is no pre- registration. Registration will be taken on Sunday, January 7, 2024. Entries are limited to 5 pairs, first come first serve basis.
Contestants will play two tunes of their choice. Congruent performances are desirable. Twin style is defined by – two fiddlers’ playing in each other’s shadow, melody and harmony moving together. Orchestrated performances do not fit the definition of “twin” fiddling.
Novice Division: Any Age. This must be the first time a contestant has played in any fiddle contest. Contestant may play two tunes of any kind. There is no time limit. All other general rules apply.
General Fiddle Contest Rules: Contact microphones and amplified instruments will not be permitted during any division. No trick fiddling allowed during contest appearances. No cross-tuning on stage. Judging criteria on individual tunes will include but is not limited to: Difficulty, Musical Expression, Rhythm and Timing and Tone & Intonation. Audience participation IS allowed and encouraged. Time consideration will be given to contestants for excessive audience response. No sheet music shall be displayed in the contest arena.
Any contestant winning three consecutive years in the Open Championship division must sit out the following year’s contest. Any contestant winning three consecutive years in any age division (except Small Fry and Junior Junior) will automatically move into the Championship Division. Small Fry and Junior Junior contestants winning three consecutive years will automatically move up to the next age division.
In the event of a tie, contestants will play off according to the stipulations of the judges. Playoffs will only be for ties in the top five places.
Points will be deducted for contestants repeating/playing the same tunes. Contestant score sheets will not be distributed.
All decisions of the judges and the contest committee will be final.