After taking a year off due to COVID-19, Athens State University is preparing to welcome old-time music lovers of all ages to campus again this fall for the 2021 Tennessee Valley Old Time Fiddlers Convention, presented by Aetos Systems Inc.

The convention will run from Sept. 30 through Oct. 2. Musical competitions will be held on the Alabama Farmers Cooperative Main Stage in front of Founders Hall and at the Brown Hall stage, with more than $19,000 in prize money to 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. There are 19 different categories of competition, including several fiddle and guitar categories, harmonica, mandolin, bluegrass banjo, dobro, dulcimer, old-time singing, old-time banjo and buck dancing.

Winners in these categories and others shall for the next year be known as the Alabama State Champions. Competitions begin 7 p.m. Oct. 1, resume at 8:30 a.m. Oct. 2 and conclude with the crowning of the Fiddle Champion on Saturday night.

Due to unexpected inclement weather at the 2019 convention, in addition to cancelations in 2020 due to COVID-19, an Alabama State Fiddle Champion has not been named in two years. This year, the winner of the “Fiddle Off,” which pits the top fiddlers from the junior, intermediate and senior divisions against each other for the prestigious title, will earn a total of $1,800 in cash and a trophy, along with bragging rights.

Entertainment

Volume Five will perform 7 p.m. Sept. 30 during a free “Preview Night” to kick off the convention. The complimentary concert will take place on the Alabama Farmers Cooperative Main Stage and will be open to the public.

This year’s headliners will perform back to back Oct. 1, starting with Gospel Music Association and Country Music Association Hall of Fame member Jimmy Fortune at 5 p.m., followed by the “Rockstars of Bluegrass,” Dailey and Vincent, at 6 p.m. Both concerts will take place on the Alabama Farmers Cooperative Main Stage.

Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver will wrap up the entertainment portion of the convention with a performance at 5 p.m. Oct. 2 on the Alabama Farmers Cooperative Main Stage.

Access to all Fiddlers Convention entertainment is included with the purchase of an admission ticket. Tickets are $15 per adult for one day or $20 for a weekend pass. Children under 12 are free with a paid adult ticket.

Visit tvotfc.org or eventbrite.com to purchase tickets online. The purchase of an admission ticket includes access to all convention entertainment, events and activities.

Tickets are also available on those sites for the kickoff concert 7 p.m. Sept. 28 as part of the Tennessee Valley Old-Time Fiddlers Concert Series. The concert will take place in McCandless Hall on the Athens State University campus and feature a performance from Darin and Brooke Aldridge. Admission is $15 per person.

Cash giveaway

Convention guests will also have the opportunity to enter the annual Bank Independent Cash Giveaway. This year, the cash prizes will be bigger than ever (Thursday – $500, Friday – $1,000, Saturday – $1,000) and lucky winners will be drawn at the end of each evening.

Arts, crafts, food

Approximately 150 booths featuring old-fashioned arts and crafts will be open for business in the Nanny’s Old Fashioned Lemonade Craft Vendor Area. Convention goers will see everything from traditional artwork to coal-fired metal works.

Food vendors will also be on hand at the Pepsi Food Court to provide anything from a quick snack to a full meal.

Airstream Rally

The Alabama Unit of the Wally Byam Airstream Club will host a Special Event Rally at Athens State University to coincide with the Fiddlers Convention this year. For further information about this year’s rally, please contact athensairstreamrally@gmail.com.

About Fiddlers Convention

The Tennessee Valley Old Time Fiddlers Convention was established in 1967 after overwhelming support from two local fiddling contests. With a stated goal of reviving the tradition of old-time music, the annual event held on the historic campus of Athens State University is known as the “Granddaddy of Mid-South Fiddlers Conventions.”

Each year, hundreds of contestants visit Athens to compete for coveted titles along with “shade-tree players” who bring their own instruments to perform in impromptu jam sessions.

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