Fiddle Fest returns to Shelton State Feb. 25

Fiddle Fest Still

By WVUA 23 Digital Reporter Emilee Boster

The seventh annual Southeast Fiddle Championship, a family-friendly contest that encourages interest in bluegrass and fiddling music, is returning to Shelton State Community College Saturday, Feb. 25. 

According to their website, Fiddle Fest’s goal is to “instill a love of traditional music and inspire a new generation of bluegrass and old-time musicians.”

“It’s a part of our heritage. There’s a rich, rich heritage,” said Fiddle Fest Committee President Glenn Taylor. “There are a lot of us who are getting older that have been involved with this music all of our life, and we don’t want this kind of music to die with our generation.” 

The festival awards $7,500 in prize money in contests ranging from small Frye fiddle (for children ages 8 and under) to buck dancing to the band competition. The highest-awarded contest is for open fiddle, the most advanced fiddling competition, with $1,250 going to the winner. 

Anyone can attend the festival for free and enjoy the music throughout the day in addition to a free concert by bluegrass band Iron Horse at 4 p.m. Families can also enjoy face painting, crafting and shopping from local vendors.

Taylor said sometimes young children attend the festival, hear the bluegrass and fiddle music, and become interested in playing the genre of music themselves. 

“There’s a lot of interest in bluegrass and fiddle music even among the younger generation. You would see that if you attended the festival,” Taylor said. 

Taylor said the Community Foundation of West Alabama started the festival in 2015 in an effort to revive a traditional bluegrass and fiddling competition that was once held in McFarland Mall decades ago. 

The Community Foundation of West Alabama now partners with Shelton State Community College and the Tuscaloosa Tourism and Sports Commission to sponsor the festival. 

Last year, the contest drew around 75 contestants from seven states, and Taylor predicts it will have even more participants this year. 

Musicians interested in entering the contest can register for free online or in person the day of the event. Registration begins at 8 a.m. Saturday, and the contest begins at 9 a.m. Winners of each category will be announced shortly after their contest portion ends. 

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