2015 Contest Season Comes to Close in Glen Rose, Texas

The Dale McPherson Memorial/Texas Old Time Fiddlers Association Contest & Convention brought the 2015 contest season to an end on November 14-15, 2015.

The contest took place in the Somervell County Exposition Center in Glen Rose, Texas. Jeff McPherson served as announcer. Judging the contest were Ed Carnes, Marty Elmore, and Bubba Hopkins. This was the 3rd year that these 2 contests were combined.

In total, 31 fiddlers and 5 accompanists competed throughout the entire weekend. The contest started at 10 am Saturday with the 0-10 age division, and progressed in order through the 11-17, 18-35, 36-59, and 60+ divisions. After the TOTFA convention on Sunday, the contest started at 12:30 pm with the accompanist division and finished with the open division.

TOTFA thanks the McPherson family for allowing the convention & contest to be combined with the Dale McPherson Memorial, and to Marty and Karen in particular for opening up their home for food, fellowship, and an excellent jam Saturday night!

2015 TOTFA Elections Result in 3 New Directors

Congratulations to our newest directors Cliff McCall, Elijah Stone, and Charlie Walker! The entire membership owes these individuals thanks for volunteering their time and energy to keep the TOTFA organization running and growing. They will serve alongside continuing president Bart Baker, and directors Jason Andrew and Jordan Bankston. At press time, Elijah Stone is set to fill the secretary role and Jordan Bankston will continue serving as treasurer.

Thanks also to former directors Ed Carnes, John Crawford, and Julie Morris for their services during their 2014-2015 terms, to Bubba Hopkins who has edited The Texas Fiddler newsletter for the past several years (John Crawford is assuming that duty), and to the young lady who maintains our TOTFA website, Lisa Hopkins. You can see her handiwork on the internet by browsing to http://www.totfa.org.

Congratulations to 2015 TOTFA Convention Award Winners!

At each convention the membership casts votes to bestow three awards. The 2015 recipients are: Karissa Nugent – Favorite Fiddler, Kathy McVicker – Favorite Accompanist, and Lynda Lee – Favorite Associate.

The president and directors also decide among themselves to give the “Most Improved Fiddler” award to the member they believe has most noticeably improved in skill and execution. The 2015 recipient is Karissa Nugent.

They also granted the Board of Directors “Appreciation” award to John Caballero for his work in starting and maintaining the Llano Fiddle Contest. The Llano contest has grown and become a favorite for those who attend and has one of the most appreciative audiences.

The 2015 Board of Directors award was given to Marty Elmore. Marty and his team bring Bowie’s Chicken and Bread Days Fiddle Contest to us every year, always the 1st Saturday of October, with a fund-raising event in July that is just as fun to attend.

Bart Baker was pleased to hand the 2015 Presidents award to Keenan Fletcher. Keenan organized the Llano Swing Clinic in what must have been a record-breaking amount of time with all proceeds benefitting TOTFA. Scholarships were awarded for several students, and the instructors donated their time. The results were tremendous.

TOTFA’s Newest: 1st Annual 508 Park Fiddle Contest

The 1st Annual 508 Park Fiddle Contest was held Saturday, November 7 at the 508 Park Amphitheater in downtown Dallas, Texas. This event was sponsored in partnership with the Museum of Street Culture, a project of the Stewpot of First Presbyterian Church of Dallas. This was the first fiddle contest held in Dallas in nearly 50 years.

Alan Govenar, local filmmaker and author who produced and co- directed the documentary “Texas Style” in 1985, led the effort in organizing and funding the contest. Judges were Jim (Texas Shorty) Chancellor, Valerie Ryals, and Wes Westmoreland – 3 fiddlers who were featured in “Texas Style”. Alan Tompkins, host of the Bluegrass Heritage Radio Show and successful musician in his own right, provided his services as announcer.

32 fiddlers and 7 accompanists competed starting at 10 am, with the 0-8 division, followed by 9-12, 13-17, 18-39, 40-64, and 65+ age divisions. A “Roots of Western Swing” division also provided entertainment as individuals or groups of fiddlers competed by performing western swing tunes in the spirit of those popularized by Bob Wills.

The competition took place in the shadow of the warehouse of the Brunswick Record Corporation’s regional offices, now undergoing restoration, in which the recordings of Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys, as well as blues legend Robert Johnson, were made.

The weather was cold, gray, and damp the morning of the contest which kept the attendance down; however, by noon the sun was shining, and a small crowd enjoyed the tunes and an impromptu interview and fiddling session from the judges. The event was covered by several Dallas media outlets. For reference, the links of two stories are provided below, along with a link to “Texas Style”.

Dallas Morning News:

508 Dallas Fiddle Park Contest Picks Up Long Tradition

Dallas Observer:

Alan Govenar to Bring Dallas Its First Fiddle Contest in Almost 50 Years

“Texas Style”, copyright 1985 by Alan Govenar http://www.folkstreams.net/film,163

The Devil's Box

The Devil's Box available for purchase here!The Devil's Box is a fast paced jam-packed look at the world of contest fiddling. Every year contestants from all over the United States flock to the town of Hallettsville, Texas, to compete for the title of best Texas-style fiddler. Featuring performances from some of the greatest legends of American roots music, The Devil’s Box explores the beginnings of the art form and showcases the rising talents that will dominate the traditional music scene for years to come. The Devil’s Box is an instant classic, filled with fantastic music and great family fun. The 3-disc set includes:

Disc 1: The Devil's Box documentary, an 84-minute look at the world of contest fiddling and all of the major players involved. Bonus features include an extended history section of Texas-style, a four-minute movie of the Hallettsville Bar-BQ Cook-Off, Song Writers Serenade featurette, and an interview with the director Jason Hammond and producer Beth Jasper

Disc 2: The Devil's Box Bonus Disc features 42 complete fiddle tunes played by contestants from around the country as well as performances by Larry Franklin, Texas Shorty, and many, many more.

Disc 3 The Lost Benny Thomasson Tapes: This disc is a wonderful hour-long interview with the master himself, Benny Thomasson. Benny tells the story of Texas-style as only he knows it and plays 19 tunes like only he can. This interview from 1976 has been cleaned up and remastered and is the ideal tutorial for any fiddler who wants to hear the tunes exactly as Benny played them and learn some fascinating fiddle history along the way.

To buy the 3-disc set, click the "Buy Now" button below. You may pay with a credit card or a PayPal account. Thank you for your support! And spread the word about The Devil's Box - the happy documentary!

Save the Date:

April 2: Llano
April 23-24: Hallettsville*
May 14: Groesbeck
May 28: Athens*
October 1: Bowie
October 8: Seguin
October 15: Gilmer
November 12: Glen Rose

*non-association contest


TOTFA PayPal Address Change

If you use PayPal to renew your TOTFA membership, or make TOTFA donations or purchases, you’ll want to know that the TOTFA PayPal address has changed and is now TOTFAPayPal@totfa.org. It can be all upper-case, lower-case, or mixed-case... doesn’t matter.


TOTFA Newsletter Email Address

If you have any interesting articles, notes, or announcements that you would like to see in future publications of The Texas Fiddler newsletter you may email them to TOTFANewsletter@totfa.org. You may also mail content through the postal service by sending to: TOTFA Newsletter c/o John Crawford 277 Diamond Ln N Burleson, TX 76028-6729


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Did you know?

  • That you can now pay your TOTFA dues online? Check out our membership page.

  • That you can advertise in the TOTFA newsletter and pay online? Check out our newsletter page.

  • That TOTFA members receive the monthly newsletter by email or USPS by the 1st of each month and that the web site newsletters are posted with a month's delay?

  • That the TOTFA newsletters contain additional information about contests, birthdays, photos, teacher information, transcriptions, etc.?

  • That we would love to publish your TOTFA contest photos on this web site? Send photos to zalahopkins@gmail.com.