Upper East Tennessee has long been a land of deep musical traditions. Englishman Cecil Sharp knew this in 1916 when he selected Rocky Fork in Unicoi County as his first stop to collect ballads. And in 1925 the famous Mountain City Fiddler's Convention attracted a who’s who of southern Appalachian fiddling, and reminds us just how varied and unique this regions music is. The gateway mountain counties of Unicoi, Carter, and Johnson give way to the great Tennessee Valley to the north and west, and to the upper reaches of the western North Carolina mountains to the south and east. The story of the music here is one about the movement of people, both in and out of these highlands, and a story about people playing music, from generation to generation, in their chosen community. The Upper East Tennessee Fiddler’s Convention celebrates not only the early influential musicians who made recordings (JD Harris, Osey Helton, John Dykes, George and Lloyd Payne, Dud Vance, GB Grayson, Charlie Bowman, and many others), but also the those who played informally, for the love of music and fellowship with one another.
The Upper East Tennessee Fiddler’s Convention is a collaboration between Rocky Fork State Park and ETSU’s Department of Appalachian Studies, with support from the Tennessee Arts Commission.
Tim Pharis, Rocky Fork State Park
Roy Andrade, ETSU Department of Appalachian Studies
The contest is open to old-time players familiar with the by-gone days, whose tunes may compel blood to course faster, and feet to smack the earth unconsciously.
Next Fiddlingest Fiddler
Last Fiddlingest Fiddler
Top Banjo Picker
Second Banjo Picker
Third Banjo Picker
Second Finest Singer
Third Finest Singer
Next Dancingest Dancer
Last Dancingest Dancer
Hottest String Band
Second String Band
Third String Band
Best Dressed Fiddler
Best "Arkansas Traveller"
Best "Cumberland Gap"
$300 + one Barlow knife
$250 + I lbs. of streaked meat
$250 + 1 quart of honey, and 2 lemons
$300 + 1 box Epsom salt
$500 + 1 bundle of fresh ramps per member
one push broom
one fine umbrella
one long book
one pound Unicoi County roasted coffee
one box of cheese crackers
Special Prize of choice talking gramophone discs to best of four fiddlers, who simultaneously play a different tune in different key without commencing to chuckle, or discontinuing play.
Each musical competitor will come away with the satisfaction of knowing they have done their part in breathing vivacious revitalized life into the melodious strains of our mountain fiddle tunes. All competitors may be allowed within a group portrait upon the closing of the festivities.
Camping & Facilities
First come, first serve primitive camping facilities will be available at the property adjacent to the Flag Pond School, which has restrooms and shower facilities available for all, and will be open 24 hours.
Please no open fires.
Food will be available for purchase from several vendors and food trucks.
If you are interested in volunteering, please contact us at email@example.com. Volunteers will receive free admission, and camping.
Mountain Inn And Suites - 11.5 miles
Locally owned and operated Rental Cabins - 423-388-9340- sleeps 6 - 2 miles
https://www.vrbo.com/491862 3 bedroom Cabin – 4 miles
https://www.vrbo.com/795962 Sleeps 10 – 3 miles
https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/12173185 Sleeps 6 – 4 miles
https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/11106996 Sleeps 4 – 5.5 miles