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8-year-old contestant Hilda Quebe at the 1999 event
8-year-old contestant Hilda Quebe at the 1999 event

Athens Fiddlers Contest & Reunion

East Texas has been noted for its fiddlers since the time of Davey Crockett and Sam Houston. The Athens Fiddlers Contest and Reunion is devoted to the preservation of the style of music that once brought courage to our starving troops at Valley Forge, earned devoted admirers like Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson, and today continues to delight millions. Begun in 1932 as a climax to a farmer's study course, the first fiddlers contest in Bethel, Texas, attracted around 900 people who heard from fourteen string bands. The next year, the civic leaders from the city of Athens, Texas, conspired to lure the festival away from the Bethel community with promises of bigger crowds and bigger prizes, and, in 1933, they staged the fiddlers contest in Athens High School. The following year, and ever since, the competition has been held on the Henderson County Courthouse lawn in Athens.

The common bond for those who attend the celebration has always been a love for fiddle music. On May 28th, 1999, a crowd of hundreds spectators and almost ninety contestants, ranging in age from 11 to well over 65, gathered on the lawn of the Henderson County Courthouse for the 68th Annual Fiddlers Contest and Reunion. The competition is broken down into five divisions, and five prizes are awarded in each divisions. Competitors are scrutinized for their bowing techniques, tempo, tune and, most importantly, the how closely their sound approximates old-time fiddle music.

The project is documented by six-page report, nine photo prints, four digital photos, a poster, program flyer, brochure, and an entry form announcing the divisions and prizes.

Originally submitted by: Pete Sessions, Representative (5th District).

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The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.

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