Ohio State Old Time Fiddlers’ Contest To Take Place In Nelsonville

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Over fifty years after the Ohio State Old Time Fiddlers’ Competition began in Nelsonville, people from around Ohio are still coming and bringing their well-honed craft to the competition’s stage.

The competition will be held this year on August 20 at 6 p.m. at Stuart’s Opera House, 52 Public Square, and open to fiddler’s of all ages. The competition has spots for children 12 and under, those 13 to 18, adults 19 to 54, and those age 55 and above.

Fiddler’s of all ages and walks of life come out for the competition each year, Chloe Musick, the Marketing and Public Relations Director of Stuart’s Opera House said.

“In the past, we have had some of the most talented Fiddler’s of all ages come to this festival,” Musick said. “We have people coming from all over the state of Ohio. Sometimes the families have siblings where every kid in the family is just really gifted.”

The art has been passed down through many generations and in many different ways, Suzanne Ragg, the organizer of the Fiddler’s Competition, said, coming from styles from across the Atlantic, in Europe and beyond.

“A fiddle, of course, was an easy instrument to carry, and easier than a large instrument, you know, harpsichord, something like that,” Ragg said. “So I think that is how fiddling first began in the Appalachian area.”

The influences from Europe mixed together, bringing modern fiddling to life.

Ragg said she feels that the “danceability” of the music is key, bringing together and entertaining audiences. Playing can be defined by quick note changes, and improvisation by the individual player. With such a unique art defined by each individual, bringing many fiddlers together makes for quite a show.

Although the art has deep roots in the Appalachian region, fiddlers come from across the state of Ohio, from places as far as Akron and Toledo, to those as close as Nelsonville itself.

This year, participants can either register ahead of time or on the day of the festival. The performances will begin at 6 p.m. at Stuart’s Opera House, and all audience members, volunteers, and performers are required to wear masks, with the exception of the performer on stage at the time.

Those interested in watching the competition do not have to attend the Parade of The Hills Festival in Nelsonville to attend, and tickets may be purchased from Stuart’s Opera House.