2nd Annual

APRIL 27-28, 2018


Flag Pond, TN


Click here to view poster.

Watch the video from last year.



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


Friday, April 27, 2018


Square Dance (Rodney Sutton, caller)


with program by Green Grass Cloggers


Saturday, April 28, 2018



1:00 to 6:00pm



6:00 to 7:30pm


Contest FINALS



Contest Rules


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.




  1. Registration begins at 11am on Saturday April 28, 2018. Contest commences at 1pm.
  2. Participants of the fiddle, banjo and stringed band categories will be asked to initially present one representative piece of music. In the event of gaining the finals round, each competitor shall prepare two pieces: one lively piece and one waltz piece. Diversifying one’s presentation of musical skills may be favorable to the judges. If any of the contest categories have ten or less entries, no finals will be necessary. Competitors within dance and singing categories will furnish one musical sampling each.
  3. The judges decisions shall be irrevocable.
  4. You must play by ear only (no sheet music)
  5. Each contestant may have accompaniment from no more than four persons, unless a fifth is doing the hambone (accompaniment may not play the same instrument as the competitor in question).
  6. Each contestant is encouraged to render only the length of their piece seen necessary (several times through a tune is usually enough). Singers of ballads should take particular care to abbreviate their offerings (8 minute limit).
  7. Any person enrolling themselves in the competition may participate in no more than two separate categorical events.
  8. All singers will ensure their lyrical choices and audible outbursts or exclamations are family appropriate.
  9. Singers will also remain mindful of the fact that the judges will offer preference to performances that demonstrate a connection to the traditional singing and repertoire of these southern mountains.
  10. Dancers may be accompanied by no more than four persons, and will kindly resist the urge to attach metal taps to the bottom of their competition shoes. Clogging, flat-footing, and buck-dancing, or any hybrid of these forms is appropriate.



Fiddlingest Fiddler

Next Fiddlingest Fiddler

Last Fiddlingest Fiddler


Top Banjo Picker

Second Banjo Picker

Third Banjo Picker



Finest Singer

Second Finest Singer

Third Finest Singer


Dancingest Dancer

Next Dancingest Dancer

Last Dancingest Dancer



Hottest String Band

Second String Band

Third String Band


Best Dressed Fiddler

Oldest Fiddler

Tallest 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



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 info@otfiddlersconvention.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






© 2018 Upper East Tennessee Fiddler's Convention

site design by bvc web design