There have been some new developments lately in the TOTFA that I’d like to share with everyone.  First, some bad news that will hopefully be offset with some good news.  After discussions with the representative of the Belton Chamber of Commerce, with input from our directors, TOTFA and Belton came to the mutual agreement that the time had come to end the July 4th fiddle contest.  After years of poor attendance due to many factors, both organizations agreed that it’s time had passed.  We lost too many potential contestants due to the many other activities that take place over the 4th of July holiday, as well as the fact that there was no place for audience members or contestants to escape the heat during the contest.  Additionally, we felt a lack of sufficient prize money was a contributing factor to the poor attendance.  Even though TOTFA added money to the purse last year in an attempt to boost attendance, we only drew eleven total contestants.  Belton wanted us to bring them more fiddlers, but they were unable to provide more funds.  We hated to put an end to a contest when our objective is to build them up, but it was mutually agreed that it just wasn’t viable to continue with it.

On the upside, we have secured a new contest, and very likely a second new contest.  Ed and I recently met with an organization in downtown Dallas, represented by Alan Govenar, who produced the film, “Texas Style,” a few years ago featuring Texas fiddling (Google it, you’ll enjoy it).  His film featured TOTFA members Wes Westmoreland, Valerie Ryals, and Shorty Chancellor (Julie Morris also made a short cameo), all of whom have agreed to judge a contest that we are organizing November 7th, 2015.  They are enthusiastic to do this contest, and have adequate funds to back it up.  This contest will have a Western Swing slant to it, as the venue is the site of many of the Texas Playboys recording sessions, as well as many other swing artists of that era.  We feel that this has the potential to become a big event for us.

Ed and I also met with Alan Tompkins, who heads up the Bluegrass Heritage Foundations. He is heavily involved in the acoustic music scene in the metroplex.  We have a tentative agreement with his organization for a contest March 14-15, 2016, in Richardson, Texas.  It will be held in conjunction with Lone Star Fest.  These two contests will be a significant addition to our schedule and we are excited about getting them off the ground.  We will provide more details on both as they develop.  These dates are 99% firm.

On a final note, the current board of directors is ¾ through our current term with TOTFA.  I don’t know the intentions of different board members, but due to other demands of my time, I will not be seeking another term.  Members should start thinking about who they would like to have represent TOTFA for the next two years.  I urge you to get involved in the process and help inject some new ideas into the organization.

Hope to see everyone at the convention, if not sooner.

Bart Baker


Stay in tune,

Bart Baker


TOTFA Balance Sheet...

Opening TOTFA Account Balance as of 05/05/2015 $2,931.77
Membership Revenue (currently active members) + 420.00
Judges Fee Donation (Chris Sell) + 30.00
Subtotal $3,381.77
Newsletter Printing & Mailing ($73.58 from previously purchased give card with $96.42 balance remaining) - 0.00
Bank Service Fee - 12.00
Ending TOTFA Account Balance as of 05/05/2015 $3,369.77

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

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!

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