Ricky Skaggs

Bluegrass legend and Grammy-award winning entertainer Ricky Skaggs performs at the 2018 Tennessee Valley Old Time Fiddlers Convention. He will return to headline this year’s festival, set for Oct. 3-5 on the campus of Athens State University.

Bluegrass legend Ricky Skaggs and his band Kentucky Thunder will again be the headliner at this year’s Tennessee Valley Old Time Fiddlers Convention, according to a press release.

Skaggs will perform at 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. Friday, Oct. 4, on the Alabama Farmers Cooperative main stage. Skaggs, who has a career spanning 50 years, performed at the convention for the first time last year.

“Skaggs has racked up 15 Grammys and 12 No. 1 hits, making him one of the greatest bluegrass artists of all time,” the release said.

Also performing this year will be Athens’ own Bradley Walker and the Lonesome River Band, which is set to perform 6 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 5. His appearance will come just two weeks after a scheduled performance at Eric Clapton’s Crossroads Music Festival in Dallas.

Michael Cleveland and Flamekeeper will perform 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 3, during a free preview night to kick off the convention. The complimentary concert will be open to the public.

About the convention

This will be the 53rd annual Tennessee Valley Old Time Fiddlers Convention, which is held each year on the campus of Athens State University. This year’s convention is presented by Huntsville International Airport.

Musical competitions will be held on the Alabama Farmers Cooperative main stage in front of Founders Hall and the Aetos Systems stage at Brown Hall. More than $18,000 in prize money will be awarded. Proceeds from the convention fund student scholarships and other university projects throughout the year.

Historically, the convention has attracted more than 15,000 people for the Friday and Saturday competitions, with more than 200 musicians participating.

The Tennessee Valley Old Time Fiddlers Convention is the home of the Alabama State Fiddle Champion and Alabama state champion categories including:

• Harmonica;

• Bluegrass banjo;

• Dulcimer;

• Old time banjo;

• Classic old time fiddler;

• Buck dancing;

• Mandolin;

• Dobro;

• Old time singing;

• Guitar-finger picking;

• Guitar-flat picking;

• Bluegrass band; and

• Old time band.

The winners in all of these categories shall for that year be known as the Alabama state champions. Competitions will begin 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 4, resume 8:30 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 5, and conclude Saturday night with the crowning of the fiddle champion.

Bill Jones, from Covington, Georgia, was named the Alabama State Fiddle Champion at last year’s convention. He won the “Fiddle Off,” which pits the top fiddlers from the junior, intermediate, and senior divisions against each other for the prestigious title. This year’s fiddle champ will earn a total of $1,200 in cash and a trophy, along with bragging rights.


About 150 booths featuring old-fashioned arts and crafts are part of the convention. Convention-goers will see everything from traditional artwork to coal-fired metal works. Food vendors will also be on hand to provide anything from a quick snack to a full meal.


Cost of admission is $15 per adult for Friday, $15 per adult for Saturday, or $20 per adult for a weekend pass. Children under 12 will be admitted free with a paid adult. Tickets can be purchased online or from the Athens State Business Office in Founders Hall at 300 N. Beaty St.

Airstream rally

The Alabama Unit of the Wally Byam Airstream Club will again host a special event rally at Athens State University to coincide with the convention.

“Holding the rally in Athens will give event-goers the opportunity to experience the rich culture and history of the city as well as enjoy all of the excitement the Fiddlers Convention has to offer,” the release said.

For more information about this year’s rally, contact athensairstreamrally@gmail.com.

Concert series

Leading up to the convention, Athens State University will host performances as part of the Tennessee Valley Old Time Fiddlers Concert Series. Remaining concerts for this year include:

• Thursday, July 25: Carpenter & May;

• Thursday: Sept. 26: Nashville Bluegrass Band; and

• Tuesday, Oct. 1: Mandolin workshop hosted by Tony Robertson and David Henry.

Concerts will be at 7 p.m. in McCandless Hall on the campus of Athens State University. Admission is $10 per person.

Tickets can be purchased by visiting www.tvotfc.org or www.eventbrite.com.