By Budd McLaughlin
After almost a half-century, they’re still fiddling around.
That’s right. It’s time to rosin up the bows, pull up a stool — or lawn chair — and tap your feet.
The 47th annual Tennessee Valley Old Time Fiddlers Convention steps off Friday at Athens State.
More than 200 musicians will compete for more than $11,000 in prize money in several categories including fiddle, guitar, harmonica, banjo, mandolin, bluegrass banjo, dulcimer, old-time singing and one of the more popular competitions — buck dancing. The competition on the Alabama Farmers Cooperative Main Stage, on the steps of Founders Hall, begins 7 p.m. Friday.
And, Saturday night, the culminating event takes place: The fiddle-off.
The top two fiddlers will duel for the title of Tennessee Valley Old Time Fiddle Champion. The winner also receives a trophy and $1,000.
Not only is there great music and dancing, but there is tasty food of all kinds as wells as arts and crafts ranging from traditional artwork to coal-fired metal works.
The “Granddaddy of Midsouth Fiddlers Conventions,” named a Top 20 Event for October by the Southeast Tourism Society for the third time, also has a couple of special guest performers.
Music comedian Mike Snider will take the stage at 4 and 6 p.m. Friday. The Tennessean combines humor with banjo playing. He’s appeared on TNN’s “Nashville Now” and his band has performed at Opryland USA. Snider also was on “Hee Haw” with a spot in the show’s cornfield.
Saturday, Gary Nichols and the SteelDrivers will perform at 5 p.m. Nichols, a Muscle Shoals native, heads the Grammy-nominated group, which recorded albums in 2008 and 2010. The band was also a New Artist of the Year nominee by the Americana Music Association and was named 2009’s Emerging Artist of the Year by the International Bluegrass Music Association.
Want to go?
When: Gates open 8 a.m. Friday and 7:30 a.m. Saturday.
Admission: $8 Friday; $10 Saturday; $15 for both days. Children under 12 years old are admitted free with a parent.
Where: Athens State University. In the event of rain, it will be held in the gymnasium with limited capacity. Pets and coolers are not allowed.
Information: Visit www.athens.edu/fiddlers