Fiddler's Convention set for October 4-5

Mike Snider and Gary Nichols and the SteelDrivers
headlining this year’s festival

             ATHENS, Ala. –  Athens State University will host the 47th annual Tennessee Valley Old Time Fiddlers Convention on Oct. 4-5 at the school's campus in Athens, Alabama. The musical competitions will be held on the steps of historic Founders Hall and other locations throughout the campus. A total of $11,870 in prize money will be awarded.

The convention is sponsored annually by the Athens State University Foundation and the Greater Limestone County Chamber of Commerce. Proceeds from the convention fund student scholarships and other university projects.

The convention has historically attracted more than 15,000 people for the two-day event, with more than 200 musicians participating in the musical competition. There are 18 different categories, including several fiddle and guitar categories, harmonica, mandolin, bluegrass banjo, dulcimer, old time singing, banjo, and buck dancing.  The festival culminates on Saturday night with the naming of the “Fiddle Champion.” Being named Fiddle Champion is highly competitive and is a coveted prize.

               Beginning this year, The Tennessee Valley Old Time Fiddlers Convention will be home to Alabama State Champions for certain contests.   The Alabama State Champion categories include 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 Bluegrass Old-time Band.  The winners in those categories shall for that year be known as the Alabama State Champions respectively. 

Joel Whittinghill was named “Fiddle Champion” at last year’s convention. He won the “fiddle off” which traditionally pits the top fiddlers from the junior and senior divisions. This year’s fiddle champ will earn a total of $1,000 in cash and a trophy.

Headlining the 47th annual Tennessee Valley Old Time Fiddlers Convention at Athens State University will be musical comedian Mike Snider.  He will perform on the Founders Hall stage at 4:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. on Friday, October 4.

            Snider, a native of Gleason, Tennessee, made his way onto the country music scene in the 1980's with his incomparable wit and stellar banjo playing. Mike first worked his way into people's hearts through his hundreds of spots on TNN's Nashville Now, and his seven-year stay in the cornfield on "Hee Haw". In addition to his television work, Mike and his band entertained crowds for seven years at Nashville's Opryland USA.

            In addition, Gary Nichols and the SteelDrivers will perform on Saturday, October 5 at 5:00 p.m. on the stage in front of Founders Hall on the campus of Athens State University.  Muscle Shoals native Gary Nichols is next in line of the great Muscle Shoals songwriting performers.   In 2003 he signed with Mercury Records and returned to north Alabama, signed a songwriting deal with Fame Music and resumed his busy session schedule.   When the SteelDrivers asked him to join them, Nichols threw his hat in the ring and hasn't looked back.

            Approximately 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.

            Contests begin Friday, October 4 at 7:00 p.m. following the Mike Snider performance and resume on Saturday, Oct. 5 at 8:30 a.m. with the gates opening at 8:00 a.m. Cost is $8 for Friday, $10 for Saturday and $15 for both days. Children ages 12 and under are admitted free with a parent.  Advance tickets are available from the Athens State Business Office located in Founders Hall at 300 N. Beaty Street.

For more information visit

Guy McClure
(256) 233-8296 

September 5, 2013



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