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Jam session outside Founders Hall, Athens College (now Athens State University), late 1970s

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Tennessee Valley Old Time Fiddlers Convention
A Local Legacy

Have you ever heard some good, old-fashioned fiddle music? You would if you went to the Tennessee Valley Old Time Fiddlers Convention, which holds a "fiddle-off" competition each year.

Nicknamed the "Granddaddy of Midsouth Fiddlers Conventions," the Tennessee Valley Convention is held at Athens State University in Athens, Alabama. The idea for a convention began in 1967 when a few musicians who were meeting in a rural Limestone County home decided it was time to bring fiddling out of the living room and onto the stage. Back then, square dances were held almost every week, and fiddlers, guitar and banjo players would play up a storm at homes and social events.

Today, the convention brings back the tradition of competition in old-time music. Contestants compete for prize money in 15 categories, including several fiddle and guitar categories, harmonica, mandolin, old-time singing, banjo, and buck dancing. If you win the "fiddle-off" competition, you are declared the "Fiddle King" and take home a trophy and $1,000.

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