National Oldtime Fiddlers’ Week is held annually during the third full week in June, and this year, it takes place from June 16 to 22. This event is an old-time music contest competition, festival, and musical meeting held in Weiser, Idaho, western United States. The contest is hosted at Weiser High School — in the school gymnasium — and many contestants camp in the school’s sports fields. The annual event is popular within the fiddling community, and the contest draws musicians from across the country. About 10,000 attendees grace the week every year with almost 350 fiddlers competing in eight divisions in the contest. Other special events during the National Oldtime Fiddlers’ Week include performances, workshops, band battles, a parade, and a carnival.
History of Old Time Fiddlers Week
The contest began in 1953 when Blaine Stubblefield, a fiddle fan who was also secretary of the Weiser Chamber of Commerce, organized the maiden Northwest Mountain Fiddlers’ Contest. As the contest grew in popularity, yearly attendance soared, and more competitors came to grace the contest from various remote locations. In 1956, with the introduction of a regional division for out-of-area fiddlers, the contest was renamed the Northwest Oldtime Fiddling Championships. The National Oldtime Fiddlers’ Contest — as we know it now — was inaugurated in 1963. Since then, the week-long contest has continued to grow and now sets the standard for all national fiddling competitions. Widely regarded as one of the best in the United States, the Oldtime Fiddlers’ Festival has earned Weiser the iconic title of “The Fiddling Capital of The World!”
Even though the most prominent style of play in the fiddling competition is Texas Contest Style, many other fiddling styles are also played during the late-night jam sessions. There are seven divisions in the contest: Small Fry division (contestants eight years of age and younger); Junior-Junior division (contestants 12 years of age and younger); Junior division (contestants younger than 18 years); and Young Adult division (ages 18 to 36). The other divisions in the competition are the Adult division (ages 37 to 59); the Senior Division (ages 60 and above); and finally, the Grand Champion, which is open to competitors of any age.
No competitor may compete in more than one division, and inter-division competitions are not allowed. The Small Fry and Junior-Junior divisions compete in three rounds; the Junior, Young Adult, Adult, and Senior divisions have to compete in four rounds; and the Grand Championship lasts for six rounds.
Old Time Fiddlers Week timeline
Italian Andrea Amati begins making violins.
Fiddling is heard for the first time in Weiser, Idaho.
The first fiddling contest is held in Weiser.
The competition officially becomes the National Oldtime Fiddlers’ Contest.
Old Time Fiddlers Week FAQs
When were fiddles created?
Fiddles, or violins, were developed as early as the 16th century.
How old is a fiddle?
Fiddles have existed as far back as the Middle Ages — well over 500 years ago. However, the modern fiddle only gained popularity when it was used in traditional Irish (folk) music during the 17th century.
Why are violins also called fiddles?
A violin is sometimes informally called a ‘fiddle,’ regardless of what type of music is played with it. However, conservatives insist the term ‘violin’ should only be used in connection with classical music and the ‘fiddle’ with Irish or folk music.
Old Time Fiddlers Week Activities
The National Oldtime Fiddlers’ Contest and Festival is open to anyone qualified to compete in any of the divisions. You can visit the contest’s official website to register.
Grace the festival
If you love fiddle music or are curious about what happens at the festival, you can take a trip to Weiser during the festival. Other than the contests, you’ll be awed by the side attractions at the festival.
The fiddling festival also welcomes volunteers to bring glamor and style to the events. Visit the official website to see how you can be a part of the volunteer force.
5 Interesting Facts About The Fiddle/Violin
What’s in the name?
The word ‘violin’ comes from the Middle Latin word ‘vitula’ which means ‘stringed instrument,’ and ‘fiddle’ comes from the Old English word ‘fithele’.
There’s a name for violin artisans
A person who makes or repairs violins is called a ‘luthier’ and the one who makes the bow is called an ‘archetier.’
It’s not an easy job
It may take up to 200 hours to make a good-quality violin!
To create a modern violin
Modern violins are made from over 70 pieces of wood.
Fiddling is helpful mentally and physically
Violinists can use both sides of their brain more easily and burn up to 175 calories an hour while playing the violin!
Why We Love Old Time Fiddlers Week
Promoting good old fiddling
This fiddling festival and contest is known for promoting old-time and traditional fiddling and related traditional arts. It continues to be the standard for all fiddling contests and festivals across the U.S.
For charity and education
Other than the contests and festivals, National Oldtime Fiddlers, Inc., the sponsoring corporation, also focuses on using the event for charitable and educational purposes. The corporation also conducts research, provides instruction, and maintains archives and collections on old-time fiddling and related traditional arts.
Rewarding ingenious fiddlers
For over 60 years, the contest has welcomed hobby and professional fiddlers from various locations. It also serves as a meeting point for fiddle fans, supporters, and enthusiasts.
Old Time Fiddlers Week dates