Fiddlers' contest kicks off Jan. 11
A certain musical may boast “Seventy-six Trombones,” but at least that many fiddlers are heading to Yuma for a competition that's known from coast to coast.
The Worthen Memorial Old Time Fiddlers' Contest kicks off its 34th year this week with events running Jan. 11-13. The popular event gives fiddlers from around the U.S. and Canada the chance to jam and compete, while giving local music lovers the chance to enjoy great live music.
“If you like acoustic music, this is where you have to be,” said organizer Dan Levenson. “If you love fiddle music, it's the only place to be.”
The Worthen Memorial Old Time Fiddlers' Contest is sponsored by the Yuma Jaycees and the Yuma Territorial Chapter of the Arizona Old Time Fiddlers' Association.
All events will be held at the Jaycees Clubhouse, located at 2577 E. County 14th St. Contests will begin at 10 a.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Levenson said that folks wanting to enjoy the music should considering checking out the jam sessions planned for 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
“We'll just keep playing each night until we run out of musicians, which is usually between 9 and 10 p.m.,” he said.
Last year's featured around 50 fiddlers, but Levenson said he's expecting quite a few more competitors this time around. He credits building reputation of the contest, which resumed in 2010 after being cancelled for several years.
“I think it just takes a while for people to get this back into their schedule,” Levenson said. “I'm expecting between 70 and 100 fiddlers this year. I'm getting more calls than ever. People are really excited that this contest is back.”
The Worthen Memorial Old Time Fiddlers' Contest enjoys quite a strong reputation among fiddle players throughout North America. Before moving to Yuma, Levenson himself came here for the event each year from Ohio.
“Of course, the Canadians come down and the Iowa crowd always comes,” he said. “Henry The Fiddler, which is (his) real name, is also coming from Denver. He was our grand champion last year. He is just fabulous. He could be a concert musician if he wanted, but he prefers fiddling.”
He added that Yuma also deserves some credit for explaining the event's popularity.
“I think a lot of people (come) because this event is in Yuma, which is a big draw in itself, both because of the weather and because of our vibrant agriculture – the fields are green,” Levenson said. “A lot of people come down several days early to go downtown and shop. Some go down to Mexico. They just love Yuma.”
To see the full schedule for the contest, go to www.YumaOldTimeFiddlers.com. Levenson can also be reached via email at OldBzrd@gmail.com.