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Photo of a young girl playing the fiddle with a two guitarists and a stand-up bass
Eight year old contestant Hulda Quebe fiddling in 1999

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Athens Fiddlers Contest and Reunion
A Local Legacy

Have you ever seen a fiddle? A fiddle is an early version of the violin -- it is a medieval European instrument with a neck, a rounded shape and three to five strings with tuning pegs on the front or back to tighten or loosen the strings. The girl in the photo is only 8 years old, but she plays the fiddle well enough to be in the Athens, Texas, Fiddlers Contest and Reunion.

The people of east Texas love a good fiddle tune. That's why so many of them gather every year for this event. The reunion is a chance for fiddling friends to catch up with each other, and the contest is a chance for fiddlers to show their stuff. Contestants range in age from 11 to well over 65. They are judged on their style and skill, and, most important, on how closely they re-create old-time fiddle music -- the music that gave courage to starving troops of soldiers at Valley Forge during the American Revolution, earned devoted admirers like Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson, and today continues to delight millions.

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