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West Valley City Journal

Fiddlers compete at annual Utah fiddle contest

Dec 08, 2016 03:14PM ● By Huy Tran

Susan Horn, a competitor under the adults fiddling division (Huy Tran/City Journals)

By Huy Tran | [email protected]

Violinists everywhere fiercely fiddled their way to victory at the annual Utah State Fiddle Contest. The event was presented by the Utah Old Time Fiddlers (UOTF) and Country Music Association at the West Valley City Hall on Nov. 12, and many arrived to showcase their musical talents to the area. 

The Utah Old Time Fiddlers is a nonprofit dedicated to the promotion and perpetuation of old time music. The organization encourages musicians of all ages and the contest itself provides opportunities for people to improve their skills through public performance.

“It was organized in 1976 by Jim Shupe, who did fiddle contests in a variety of places like Wheeler Farm and Richfield. For the last four years we’ve been here in West Valley,” said Lynn Brighton, president of the UOTF. 

The hall was full of competitors refining their pieces to present to the judges. Even children were preparing to take the stage.

The contest was split into different divisions by age, ranging from “small fry” fiddlers to seniors 70 and up. Amongst the divisions included not only violin, but also banjo, guitar and mandolin events. Winners were awarded at the end of each round’s adjudication.

The winners of each division are certified to advance to national competitions. The last group of qualifiers competed in Wheezer, Idaho.

The Old Time Fiddlers stress the importance of youth involvement and they create as many opportunities as possible for kids to demonstrate and practice their diverse talents. Many events are centered on bringing people together to play and share their love of music with one another.

“It’s always exciting to see the young kids playin’. Our first group of the day is the small fry, and they are really good,” said Brighton. “I’m glad to see there’s a lot of youth that enjoy playing the fiddle, and that’s what brings most of us here.”

The Salt Lake chapter of the UOTF is only one of the six functioning chapters of the organization. Each chapter brings a variety of gigs and musical opportunities to locals.

The event is sponsored by a variety of groups such as Scoggins & Scoggins, a violin shop that wants to bring the joy of fiddling to the whole community. 

Aside from holding statewide competitions, the Old Time Fiddlers also hold regular jam sessions open to everyone. These events encourage community involvement and invite musicians of all experience levels to come and enjoy a good jam time. The “jr. jam” sessions will be for musicians 14 years and under at the West Valley City Hall. It is on the second and fourth Saturdays from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m.

Whether it’s the fiddle or the banjo, the organization strives to keep the fun of old time music alive. To learn more about UOTF, visit