The contest began 36 years ago, put together with $80 in pocket change. It was the dream of local fiddlers D.C. Ashby, Don Stephenson and brothers, Githon and Clinton Reid in 1970.
In 2006, it's still going strong.
While fiddlers from across the state put rosin on their bows in preparation for the annual Arizona State Championship Old Time Fiddlers Contest, volunteers are hard at work putting together the event that takes place Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 23 and 24.
"This contest has been going on for many years, we are at year 36," said co-chairman of the Payson Fiddlers Committee, Nelson Beck. "That's quite a claim -- there are not many events, or institutions for that matter, in this area that have been going on for that long."
The committee is a nonprofit, all volunteer organization that supports and promotes old-time fiddling.
"Fiddling is important to the Rim Country and the West and we feel like this is a great, family-oriented event that anyone can enjoy," Beck said.
The committee expects to get somewhere between 300 and 500 attendees per day through the gate, listening to 40 or more contestants.
"But we'd certainly welcome more than that," Beck said. "We would really like to see the local folks turn out and show that it means something to them."
Money raised over and above the cost of this year's event plus seed money for the 37th annual competition will be reserved for scholarships.
"We hope to give $2,000 to $4,000 worth of scholarships to year 2007 graduates who have the intention of going on to college, preferably kids who are studying music and have an interest in music, with more preference given to kids who have an interest in the fiddle or violin," Beck said.
The 36th Annual Arizona State Championship Old Time Fiddlers Contest has a new location: at the Houston Mesa Horse Camp in the Fox Loop Group Site.
Right now, organizers are looking for businesses to sponsor the Old Time Fiddlers Contest.
For $500, a gold sponsorship, your banner is placed onstage, a half-page ad is put in the program and your business is announced six times throughout the show each day.
For $250, a silver sponsorship, your banner is placed in the arena, a third-page ad is put in the program and your business is announced four times throughout the show each day.
For $100, a bronze sponsorship, you receive a business card sized ad in the program and your business is announced two times throughout the show each day.
"If you are unable to commit to a sponsorship, any donation will be greatly appreciated," said committee secretary Lauriena Neal.
The event will be held under the shade of a large tent but attendees are encouraged to bring their own lawn chairs.
Outside food and beverages will not be allowed in, but there will be a variety of lunch food, treats and T-shirts to purchase.
Divisions are on Saturday with the championship on Sunday.
The gates open at 9 a.m. each day and the cost of admission is $8 per day for adults, $4 for children.
Visit www.paysonfiddlers.com for competitor forms and a link to directions for Houston Mesa Horse Camp.
For more information, contact the Payson Fiddlers Committee, P.O. Box 141, Payson, AZ 85547 or co-chairman Bill Neal via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
-- To reach Carol La Valley call 474-5251 ext. 122 or e-mail email@example.com.