2022 Official Contest Rules

  1. Three competent judges will evaluate contestants’ fiddling based on intonation, timing, danceability, and style. JUDGES’ DECISIONS ARE FINAL.
  2. No electrical or amplified fiddles will be permitted.
  3. Mutes must be removed or backed away from the bridge.
  4. Any competitor who wins the same class 2 years in a row must move to a more advanced class as indicated in the classification chart below, or sit out one year.
  5. If you feel your ability is above your age class, refer to the classification chart below to choose a more advanced class. Choose the suggested next class, or something higher still.
  6. Any player under the influence of drugs or alcohol will be disqualified. This decision is made by the contest committee.
  7. Order of play for all classes (except Championship Finals) determined during the week prior to the competition, by random draw, and posted at the Dow Centennial Centre on the morning of the competition.

    Order of play for Championship Finals will be by random draw, on stage, and then posted at the Dow Centennial Centre.

Classification Chart

Starting Class →Different Class
Novice (any age) →Junior Junior (9 & under)
Junior Junior (9 & under) →Junior (14 & under)
Junior (14 & under) →Youth Level I (18 & under)
Youth Level I (18 & under) →Youth Level II (18 & under)
Youth Level II (18 & under) →Intermediate (54 & under)
Intermediate (54 & under) →Advanced (54 & under)
Advanced (54 & under) →Championship (any age)
Championship (any age) →

Starting Class →Different Class
Golden (70 & older) →Senior (55 & older)
Senior (55 & older) →Advanced (54 & under)
Championship (any age)


  • Contestants must be registered by 11 pm on the Sunday prior to the contest, using the online form (if you have difficulty registering on-line, you may also register by phone at 780-906-6862).
  • Contestants may enter a maximum of four classes: one Standard Core, and any or all of the Specialty Classes.
Standard Core Classes (choose one)Specialty Classes (any age)
Championship (any age)Youth Level II (18 & under)Traditional
Advanced (54 & under)Youth Level I (18 & under)Twin Fiddle Harmony (I or II)
Intermediate (54 & under)Junior (14 & under)Novelty (I or II)
Senior (55-69)Junior Junior (9 & under)
Golden (70 & over)Novice (any age)


  • Contestants may have ONE accompanist using our on-stage Grand Piano OR other acoustic instrument.
  • A house accompanist is available. House accompanists will be assigned for each class, and practice time with that house accompanist will be provided, if desired. Practices with the house accompanists will be available starting at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday with a sign-up sheet at the venue.
  • Accompanists must chord Old Time style, NO MELODY, NO INTRO.
  • On the day of the contest, contestants shall provide the accompanist with the name and key of the tune, and it is strongly suggested that they provide a chord chart or sheet music.
  • In the Traditional class, the fiddler drums with the feet. No other accompaniment is permitted.


  • All contestants playing two (2) or three (3) tunes must finish their tunes in four (4) minutes. (See below for playing time rules specific to the Championship class)
  • A signal will indicate the END of the allotted playing times. Judging will stop immediately. Contest etiquette requires that contestants complete their tune within 15 seconds of that signal.



  • There are no Preliminary Rounds, except in the Championship class.
  • The Novice class is intended for the beginner fiddlers who have not participated in a fiddle contest previously.
  • Level I classes are intended for the less experienced competitors.
  • Level II and Advanced classes are intended for the more advanced competitors.
  • Seasoned teachers and instructors are typically in the Advanced and higher categories.
  • All tunes, in all classes, (except Tune of Choice) must be played in Old Time Style.
  • The organizing committee reserves the right to consult with the contestant if it feels that the contestant’s registration category is below the contestant’s playing ability.
  • All contestants shall provide the names of their tunes upon check-in on the day of the contest.
  • If a contestant is not sure of which class they should register, contact

Novice class:

  • May play any tune of their choice
  • May play from sheet music

Junior Junior class:

  • Must play in order, a WALTZ followed by one other tune of their choice.
  • May play from sheet music.

Twin Harmony classes:

  • Must play in order, a WALTZ followed by one other tune of their choice

Traditional class:

  • Must play a REEL (Traditional, M tis or French Canadian)
  • The only accompaniment is the drumming of the player’s feet.
  • Style and tempo must be in unison without variation of tempo.
  • The music and the drumming must start simultaneously.

Novelty class:

  • May play any tune of choice

Championship class:

  • See below for rules specific to the Championship class

All classes not listed above:

  • Must play in order: a WALTZ, then a JIG, and end with a REEL (hornpipes and hoedowns qualify as reels).
  • Other dance rhythms, i.e. Fox Trot, Swing, Pattern or Clog tunes are not accepted

Additional Rules for Championship Class


  • Must play in order: a WALTZ, then a JIG, and end with a REEL (hornpipes and hoedowns qualify as reels).
  • Must play different tunes for each of the Preliminary and Final Rounds. No tune may be repeated, not even in a tie-breaker.
  • In the event that a tie-breaker is needed in either the Preliminary or Final Rounds, the first ‘play-off’ tune will be a REEL, and if required, the second ‘play-off’ tune would be a JIG.
  • Other dance rhythms, i.e. Fox Trot,Swing, Pattern or Clog tunes are not accepted.
  • Playing time: four (4) minutes.


Contestants in this category have been exposed to a broader range of musical styles, have matured in their art, and therefore; may wish to change the order of their tunes in the Final Round to enhance their presentation.

  1. Must play four (4) tunes
    • three (3) tunes in any order: a WALTZ, a JIG, and a REEL. (Hornpipes and hoedowns qualify as reels.)
    • one (1) additional TUNE OF CHOICE (See RECOGNIZED FIDDLE STYLES to the right.)
  2. Playing time: five (5) minutes.


  1. The following are allowed: Country, Old Time, Cape Breton, Swing, Metis, Bluegrass, French Canadian, etc.  Contrasting tunes can be played in one style
    (e.g. four contrasting Old-tunes) or in any number of a variety of styles)
    (e.g. Old-time waltz, Irish polka, Cape Breton jig)
  2. The following are not allowed:
    • Classical, jazz, blues and other non-traditional fiddle styles
    • Show tunes such as Black Mountain Rag, Orange Blossom Special and Mockingbird


  1. Waltz, Aire
  2. March (6/8), Jig
  3. Reel (2/4 or 4/4), Hornpipe, Strathspey, Polka, Clog, or Two-Step

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