Residents of Tehachapi, get ready to sing, dance, clap your hands, or tap your feet to Old Time Fiddle Music, as the California State Old Time Fiddlers Association District 3 (CSOTFA #3) hosts their annual fiddle contest "Fiddln' Down the Tracks," at the West Park Auditorium on Sept. 21-22. The event is free for all audience members.
This year is the 36th Anniversary of the contest. On Friday, Sept. 21, it will begin at 1 p.m. and will close with a contra dance and an apple pie and ice cream social that starts at 6:30 p.m.
On Saturday, Sept. 22, the contest begins again at 8 a.m. and will close with the Grand Champion of the contest being awarded.
Every year the contest honors an Old Time Fiddler on Saturday by having a fiddle division in their name, and the fiddler who plays one of the best renditions of one of their songs wins a trophy. This year's honoree is Fiddlin' Arthur Smith from Bold Springs, Tenn.
There will be food service by Kohnen's, retail vendors, a display of quilts put on by the Tehachapi Mountain Quilters, and a fundraising raffle on both Friday and Saturday.
There are 12 divisions or categories of which people can play in. They are: Small Fry (ages 8 and under), Junior-Junior (ages 9-12), Junior (ages 13-17), Adult (ages 18-49), Senior (ages 50-69), Senior-Senior (ages 70+), Twin Fiddle (any age) Open (any age), Accompanist (any age), Picking (any age), Novelty (18 and up), Junior Novelty (under 18), and Band Scrambles.
The following categories have entry fees: Junior-Junior ($4), Junior ($6), Adult ($8), Senior ($6), Open ($12), Picking ($8), Novelty and Junior Novelty ($4), and Band Scrambles ($5), all other categories are free to enter.
Each contestant only has 4 minutes to play a set, consisting of three different types of tunes; a hoedown, a waltz, and a tune of their choice. All contestants need to be registered 30 minutes before their division begins.
This year the contest has added a new fiddle division called the Cello/Bass division. The division will be for ages under 18 only and the rules will be the same as the other fiddle divisions, as well as the awards. The only difference is that the first place contestant will not be able to play in the Grand Champion playoff as this division is not a certified division. The Cello/Bass division was inspired by CSTOFA District #3's amateur contest, as they have had this division in that contest for the past two years.
On Friday, Sept. 21, only the Senior, Senior-Senior, and the adult band scramble division will be playing. All the rest of the divisions will be played on Saturday, Sept. 22. There will be trophies, medals and cash prizes handed out to all winners of each division.
In addition to all of the categories or divisions there will be a "Grand Champion Playoff" to certify a winner to play in the National Fiddle contest next year in Weiser, Idaho. "Fiddln' Down the Tracks" contest is one of two contests in California to certify a "Grand Champion" to play in the National Fiddle Contest. The contestants for this category are the 1st place winners of their division. There will be Trophy handed out to the winner of this playoff.
There will also be a Howdy Forrester Scholarship awarded to a college bound fiddler who demonstrates the clearest understanding of Howdy's signature style by writing an essay explaining how they embody the spirit of his music. This scholarship is funded by Howdy's son, Bob Forrester, of Goodlettsville, Tenn.
The California State Old Time Fiddler's Association (CSOTFA) was created in 1969 as a nonprofit organization to promote and preserve old time fiddling as part of our country's heritage. Old Time Fiddle Music dates back to the 18th, 19th, and 20th century here in the USA. The roots of the songs can be traced back to the British Isles and Europe, though many songs are purely from North America. It represents the oldest North American traditional music other than Native American music. The label itself only dates back to 1923.
Over the years 12 districts have been formed throughout California. District 3 was established in 1972 and includes the counties of Kern, Inyo and San Luis Obispo plus parts of Monterey and San Bernardino counties. It began in Bakersfield and was moved to Tehachapi in 1998.
District 3 has worked very hard to build up its membership in order to keep old-time fiddling alive in this community. Jam sessions are held on the second Saturday of each month. The jams are from 2 to 5 p.m. at the Carden School of Tehachapi, 20419 Brian Way. Fiddlers and pickers are welcome to join the jams where those present play old time music, learn new tunes and enjoy delicious snacks. Musicians of all ages attend the Saturday jams.
One of the organization's goals is to get children hooked into fiddling as part of their lifestyle. Listeners and toe-tappers are encouraged to join in, as well. Also, about every third month a contra dance is held in lieu of the jam. This is a cross between a square and a barn dance. The contra dances include a caller who provides instruction for dancers of all ability levels and a fiddle band accompanies the dancing.
The California State Old Time Fiddler's Association District #3 would like to ask the community to help the association keep the nation's music history alive by donating. The local contest hosts more than 2,000 people from around California and other states, helping put Tehachapi on the map. This event does help to provide economic support to hotels, retail stores, and the restaurants of our community.
All members of our community will be able to donate during the contest or can mail their donation COSTFA District #3, PMB 400, 785 Tucker Rd., Suite #G, Tehachapi, CA 93561.
Any business that donates $50 or more before the contest will have an advertisement sign put up at the contest and will be listed as a sponsor in the program. If you are donating by check, please make all checks need to be made out to CSOTFA District #3.
The West Park Activity Center is located at 410 W. "D" St. For more details call Brandon Guthrie at 661-972--3638.