Fiddle Fest Returns In Floyd's Shadow

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This weekend, for the first time in 32 years, the Old Time Fiddlers' Contest will take place without its beloved leader.

Vertielee Floyd, who had organized the event since its inception, died last March at the age of 72. But she had already hand-picked her successor: Roy Sandoval, who is by day the principal of Payson Elementary School, and by night the lead guitarist of his family-manned country/bluegrass band, Mazatzal Blue.

"I told her, 'I'm not looking for extra things to do, because I'm really busy,'" Sandoval recalled. "But she said, 'No, you're the person I want to take it over; you're the person who will maintain the integrity of the show and keep it a family-oriented event.' Just to placate her, I said I'd help, fully thinking that she would have it a long, long time."

Even though things didn't turn out that way, this year's fiddlefest and all those that will follow will unfold under Floyd's shadow.

"It will be very much the same as when she left," Sandoval said. "My thought is that you don't need to change something that's already successful. So there really are no major changes."

Attendees may notice a few minor changes, however, at the Payson Event Center this Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m to "whenever everyone has had a chance to play and we've awarded all of the prizes," Sandoval said.

Among the additions:

The bluegrass band Crucial County will take the stage on and off throughout the festival, and will perform bluegrass-gospel music Sunday morning.

The Sandoval family band, Mazatzal Blue, will play both Saturday and Sunday.

Payson constable Eddie Armer, among other cowboy poets, will perform.

Fiddlers in all age divisions compete in such categories as Twin Fiddle, Trick Fiddle, Fancy Fiddling, Cross-Tuned Fiddle, and the Arizona State Championship Division. The field is whittled down on Saturday, with the finalists going at it for the championship on Sunday.

Entry fees are $5 for Junior-Juniors and $10 for all others except accompanists, who may compete for free. There will be 25 cash prizes awarded, ranging from $15 to $100.

As is tradition, there will be a Saturday night community show wherein all the pickin' and grinnin' will benefit scholarships for Payson's music students.

For more information about the 32nd Annual Old Time Fiddlers' Contest, call the Payson Parks and Recreation Department at 474-5242, ext. 7.

SCHEDULE OF EVENTS

Saturday, Sept. 28

9:00 a.m. Gates open

9:30 a.m. Contest begins

Junior-Junior Division (3-12)

Senior Division (65-up)

Junior Division (13-18)

Young Adult Division (19-39)

Adult Division (40-64)

Cross-Tuned Fiddle Division

Trick Fiddling Division

Awarding of Prizes

Sunday, Sept. 29

9:00 a.m. Gates open

9:30 a.m. Gospel program, opening ceremonies

11 a.m. Contest begins

Championship Division, Round 1

Twin Fiddling Division

Championship Division, Round 2

Fancy Fiddling Division

Awarding of Prizes

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