About a year ago I was contacted by Lawson Donald of Mesa. She called to offer a donation to enhance the prizes for the two youngest age divisions in the Payson Old Time Fiddlers Contest (which is also the state championship). You see, Mrs. Donald is the mother of our current three-time champion Andrew Donald.
She told me that if it weren’t for the encouragement gained through the contests and music programs like ours held around the state, her son Andrew may not have been as adamant about sticking with the fiddle, or even with music in general. She felt that because we created an outlet for his creativity, he was more encouraged to stay the course and keep practicing. Because of this, Mrs. Donald and her husband made a generous donation toward enhancing the Small Fry & Junior Junior divisions last year, a contribution that will carry over into this year.
This is just one example of our Fiddle Championship’s fantastic, positive impact that reaches far beyond what meets the eye. For instance, who could have known back in 2000 that our young champ Jesse Stockman would be touring in 2010 with recording artists, Dailey & Vincent, the 2009 International Bluegrass Music Association Entertainer of the Year Group? Or that our 2002 champ Patrick Clark (a high school student at the time) would be recording and touring with Darius Rucker (formerly Hootie & the Blowfish). And back in the early ’80s we were also host to a young competitor named Lucky Lee Blackwell, who has been touring and recording with a nationally-known and highly acclaimed recording artist Aaron Tippin for several years.
If you consider the percentage of young athletes who make the pros or the number of high school honor students who end up running Fortune 500 companies, you have to admit that the success of our local state fiddle champs is inordinately high, in an amazing way!
Many of the contestants who compete here in Payson end up with college scholarships in the music field and pursue music careers from performing to production. So the next time you get the opportunity to listen to one of our “budding virtuosos” at the Payson Old Time Fiddlers Contest, let your mind wander a bit and imagine where that little fiddler may be performing 10 years from now.