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West Valley City Journal

Here there be fiddlin' at city hall

Dec 01, 2017 08:00AM ● By Keyra Kristoffersen

Performers Megan Gardner on fiddle, John Gardner on mandolin and Dave Dixon on guitar compete at West Valley City Hall. (Photo/Lynn Brighton)

The Utah Old Time Fiddlers organization held their annual State Fiddle Contest at West Valley City Hall on Saturday, November 11 that included musicians in child and adult categories. 

“It’s a nice little venue for a little competition. We have people of all skill levels,” said Lynn Brighton, president of the UOTF for the last two years. 

Fifty-eight competitors from Utah and Idaho went head-to-head in 14 categories to test their skills in fiddle, mandolin, guitar, banjo and harmonica playing for the chance to win a spot in the national competition in Weiser, Idaho in June 2018. Over $2,500 in prize money was also awarded. 

The Utah Old Time Fiddlers, organized by Jim Shupe, has been around since 1976 and currently has chapters in West Valley, Kanab, Ogden, St. George, Delta, Utah County and Salt Lake City with around 275 members. 

“It’s been fun to get to know people from across the state,” said Brighton.

The nonprofit organization is dedicated to the perpetuation of old-time fiddle and country music. They encourage all ages to compete and the contest provides that opportunity as well as a chance to improve through public performance.

Each chapter has a different membership make-up but all perform in concerts, competitions, events and programs at care centers and other venues performing old-time fiddle and country music. Membership is voluntary, but they do pay membership dues and play at a large festival in the Panguitch area every year, although the autumn fiddle contest is the main certified competition in Utah for the year. 

“We’re not professional status but we enjoy playing, we enjoy each other’s company and we enjoy going out and entertaining,” Brighton said.

The fiddle competition has been held in other cities, but in the past few years West Valley City Hall has hosted the 50 or more performers and 30 volunteers who help facilitate and judge. 

The winner of the Jim Shupe Memorial Champion was Moriah Ozberkmen. In individual instrument categories, the winners were: Jan Doorbos on harmonica; Isaac Beck and Jordan Snow on banjo; Taylor Thurman and Austin Taylor on guitar; Lilliana Libecki and Moriah Ozberkmen on mandolin; and for fiddle Roxy Sparks, Eliza Beck, Miriam Wagstaff, Moriah Ozberkmen and JoAnne Hinkle. Hot Fiddle went to Brent Hales.

“It’s a chance to perform, and it’s a pretty big deal,” said Brighton. “I really enjoy this organization.”

Brighton and his wife joined nine years ago as an attempt to find a fun activity that they could enjoy together when they were newly married. She plays the guitar and he plays the banjo and guitar. 

Musicians are welcome to come and perform alongside other members and learn new skills. 

“We provide a non-threatening atmosphere for people and we try to be a safe, encouraging environment,” said Brighton. “There’s a lot of pretty good singers and players, and we have fun together and encourage one another.”

For information about joining or scheduling a performance, visit: