Minnesota Fiddlers

State Fair Contest Rules

Rules for Minnesota State Fiddle Contest

August 24 & 25, 2019 

A $10 entry fee is required with the registration. Checks should be made payable to MSFA.

Entry forms are due no later than Friday, August 10.
If the divisions are not full, registrations may be accepted thereafter.
Registrations received after August 10 will not receive free tickets.


Age Divisions (Junior, Young adult, Adult) and an Open Division that is open to all.
A contestant may not enter both. Sunday will also offer Twin, Trick, Heritage, Gambler's and Fee-Fi-Faux divisions. To run, a division needs at least three registered contestants.

Performances will be scored on tone (pitch, intonation, pleasing tone, in tune), timing (good tempo, rhythm, & beat), and execution (difficulty of tune, overall performance). Traditional fiddle-style playing is expected.  This is a "fiddle" contest.  Alternative styles may be used in the "trick and fancy" division.
Scores are cumulative if the contestant competes Saturday and Sunday.  Judges will be sequestered.

1. Contestants may begin drawing at 10:30 a.m. for order of appearance and must draw before 11:15 a.m.
2. No tune shall be played by a contestant more than once during all performances in the entire two-day contest. A medley of tunes is not considered a fiddle tune and will receive zero points.
3. Contestants may play alone or with no more than three accompanists. The accompanist may not play the melody or a bowed instrument but may use chord charts. No amplified instruments may be used in the contest. Only four-string fiddles are allowed.
4. Age-division contestants shall come prepared to playa waltz and a fast tune (plus two more tunes Sunday if they advance).
5. Open-division contestants shall come prepared to play three tunes each day: a waltz, a hoedown, and a tune of choice in that order. (A tune of choice is not a hoedown or a waltz.)
6. Tunes should be memorized (no sheet music on stage) and played at a danceable tempo. Accompanists may use chord charts.
7. Each contestant in the Age Divisions shall have a maximum of five minutes each day to play two tunes. Each contestant in the Open Division shall have a maximum of seven minutes each day to play three tunes.
8. When the contestant's turn comes, he or she must be near the stage entrance and ready to play. Failure to do so will disqualify the contestant; however, in extremely unusual circumstances, the contest managers will make the final decision.
9. Points may be deducted for warming up on stage.
10. If a string breaks, the contestant will have the option to continue or stop at that point. If the tune is completed, it will be judged as played. If the contestant stops play due to a broken string, he or she will be allowed to begin with that tune and complete the program without penalty.
11. Each fiddler may compete only once in trick fiddling and once in twin fiddling. Cross tuning is only allowed in trick & twin.
12. Fiddles are to be played under the chin. No trick fiddling is allowed except in the trick-fiddling division.
13. Tunes such as "Orange Blossom Special," "Black Mountain Rag" or "Listen to the Mockingbird" are not allowed except in the trick division.
14. All contest managers' decisions and judges' decisions are final. Scores will not be released to the contestants or the public. Judges will not discuss contestants' performances during or after the contest.
15. Any protest must be signed and submitted in writing to the contest managers within three hours of the protest occurrence. Later protests will not be acknowledged.
16. Contestants and their family members and the accompanists are expected to conduct themselves with common courtesy and a spirit of fair play.

here for a printable copy of the rules.