Fiddlin’ On The Rim

Annual championship plays out this weekend



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Musicians of all ages share their talents in pursuit of honors and monetary rewards at the annual Vertilee Floyd Memorial Old-time Fiddlers Contest Sept. 27 and 28. This year the event will be held off McLane Road, south of Old Main, at Amity Acres. Look for the directional signs and plan for fun.


Roundup file photo

All contestants, their families, and volunteers are invited to a BBQ dinner on Saturday night before the jam session.


Roundup file photo

The women and men who accompany the fiddle contestants at the Vertilee Floyd Memorial Old-time Fiddlers Contest are an essential element of making a prize-winning stage presentation. The musicians also help the fiddlers provide great entertainment for the fans.

On Saturday, catch a small fry doing some trick fiddling down off Main Street.

That is when a 3- to 9-year-old tot holds their fiddle or bow in unusual position or performs a special trick all while playing the instrument.

If you’ve never heard of such a thing or thought it impossible, head over to the annual Vertilee Floyd Memorial Old-time Fiddlers Contest Sept. 27 and 28.

There will be plenty of small fry and other competitors of all ages strutting their fiddle skills.

Held just off Main Street, behind the Oxbow Saloon, at Amity’s Acres, the 2008 contest promises to bring the familiar sounds of the fiddle back into Payson for 38th time.

Considered Arizona’s official fiddle contest, it was originally known as the Arizona State Championship Old-time Fiddlers Contest.

The new location on Main Street will attract new visitors and business to the area, said event chairman Nelson Beck.

“It is going to be a great boost to the local economy on Main Street,” Beck said. “For shop owners and ourselves, it is a win-win.”

The contest started back in 1970, when a group of KOA Campground owners, most of whom did not play the fiddle, wanted to attract tourists to the campground and get fiddlers together, Beck said.

Today, fiddlers of all ages, from across the southwest converge on Payson for the contest.

In the age divisions, contestants are allowed to play for no more than four minutes, and must first play a hoedown, then a waltz, and a tune of their choice third.

Judges will score contestants on their old-time fiddling ability, the tune’s difficulty and dance level, rhythm and tone quality.

The youngest division is Small Fry for ages 3-9. Other divisions include, Junior-Junior for ages 10-12; Junior for ages 13-17; Young Adult for ages 18-39; Adult for ages 40-64; Senior for those 65 and older; plus Trick Fiddling, Fancy Fiddling, Twin Fiddling and Cross-tuned Fiddling open to all ages.

The championship division on Sunday includes the top 18 fiddlers from across the age divisions.

The champions will head to Weiser, Idaho to compete at nationals. First place prizes range from $50 to $200. The entry fee is $10.

Local bands will provide entertainment between divisions and at lunch.

There is a gospel hour hosted on Sunday, free to everyone.

The Payson Fiddlers Committee will host a barbecue dinner on Saturday night for all contestants, families and volunteers.

More information on the event is available at


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