The Grand North American Old Time Fiddle Championship (GNA) had its beginnings in the late seventies. It was recognized that two key components of having a successful contest were to have solid judging by respected fiddlers as well as big prize money, a concept that continues today. So a number of fiddlers and supporters held dances to raise funds to sponsor a major fiddle contest that would attract the best fiddlers from across North America. Some of the people who were instrumental in getting this contest started were Art ‘Lefty’ Vollrath, Art Logan, Ernie Cunningham, Ray St. Germain, Calvin Vollrath and Gilbert Anderson, all members of the first hosting association, namely the Alberta Old Tyme Fiddler’s Association.
The first contest was held in 1981 with the support of the Village of Wabamun. It was a huge success with the arena full to capacity and fiddlers from all across Canada and the United States, along with local fiddlers who fared well in many of the categories. This contest offered the biggest prize money in all of North America. After Art ‘Lefty’ Vollrath passed away in 1988, the hosting of the contest was carried on under the banner of the Wild Rose Old Tyme Fiddlers Association. During the recession in the early 1990’s the contest was not held but was revived after taking over an established contest held in conjunction with Klondike Days at the Edmonton Exhibition Grounds.
Trophy sponsors over the years have included Graham and Eleanor Townsend, the late Lt Governor Ralph Steinhauer and the late Art Vollrath.
This contest has been held in many locations, including several years in the Wabamun Arena, Perron Street Arena in St. Albert, The Red Barn, Shakers Acres & Fort Edmonton Park, St. Paul, Sherwood Park, Leduc West Antique Society grounds and, from 2009 to 2019, the contest was held in the Radway Agricentre in Radway, Alberta.
In 2020, due to the Covid situation, the contest was held on-line via Facebook Live. The 2021 competition will be on-line on Facebook.