Berea Fiddle Contests, 1919-1928

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Between 1919-1928, a series of fiddle contests was held in Berea, Kentucky. Dr. Alson Baker of Berea and John F. Smith, a professor at Berea College, were the primary organizers. Most of the contests were held at the Tabernacle building on the Berea College campus. At the top and bottom of this page are links to tables with more information about the fiddlers and the tunes they played. Below, I have transcribed most of the clippings I have located about these events. In the future, I hope to add further links and annotations, but for now, the basic information is offered through the clippings.

berea fiddlers

In 1990, a man named Chester Nolan from Madison, Indiana contacted Loyal Jones at the Appalachian Center at Berea College. From eastern  Kentucky originally, Nolan had once been roomates with Dock Roberts at Berea. Nolan recalled a fiddle contest in which he and Dock both played. Later he sent a photo (see above) showing a group of fiddlers from the contest. I believe Nolan is front row, far left. Since he participated in the 1919 contest, the photo presumably dates from that year. The fiddlers have not been identified (the third fiddler from the left in the front row is believed to be Bev Baker) but we can see the contestants' names by reading the clippings from that year. The contest held in Berea in August was preceeded by a contest in Richmond in May that was won by Dock Roberts. The first two clippings below refer to the Richmond contest.


Berea Citizen ~ May 22, 1919


An "Old Fiddlers" Contest will be given at the Eastern State Normal Chapel, May 26, 7:30 p.m. Eighty-five dollars in prizes will be given. All the old fiddlers, banjoists, guitarists, and mandolinists are invited to attend. There will be no entrance fee for any of the contestants. An admission of twenty-five cents will be charged and the proceeds will be used in sending delegates to the Blue Ridge Y. M. C. A. Conference.

Berea Citizen ~ May 29, 1919


A large crowd attended the Old Fiddlers' Contest at the Normal Auditorium in Richmond, Monday night.

Several old fiddlers, guitarists, and banjoist[s] took part in the contest. Dock Roberts of Madison County received first fiddler's prize; W. D. Chadwell of Owsley County first banjo prize, and W. D. Chadwell of Letcher first guitar prize.

The proceeds from the show will be used in sending two delegates to the Blue Ridge Y.M.C.A. school summer.

Berea Citizen ~ June 12, 1919

Watch For It

The Old Fiddlers Contest, to be given in Berea under the auspices of the Progress Club. Definite announcement as to date and place will be made later.

Berea Citizen ~ July 3, 1919

Don't Forget the Old Fiddlers' Contest to be given about August 15. Watch for announcement.

Berea Citizen ~ July 17, 1919

berea fiddle contest ad


Berea Citizen ~ July 31, 1919

Fiddlers' Contest! Time—Aug. 15. Place—Tabernacle. No "Numbers," not even "Selections," just good oldtime "Tunes," played in the old time way. Come and bring the youngsters.

Berea Citizen ~ July 31, 1919


On Friday night, August 15, an Old Time Fiddlers' meeting will be held at the College Tabernacle. The man who fiddles best will receive a prize of Fifty Dollars; the man who plays second best will receive Thirty Dollars; the man who plays third best will receive Twenty Dollars.

Number of contestants limited to fifteen.

If you wish to enter this contest, write for particulars to

Berea, Kentucky




Dr. Alson Baker, Berea, Kentucky, ca. 1931, photographed by Doris Ullmann.

Berea Citizen ~ August 7, 1919


The Graded School needs a lot of things, and Bereans have to be entertained and will pay for it.

The school needs electric lights in the assembly room, proper seating and renovating that it may be used for popular assemblies at night. Other expense[s] should be incurred to make the school house better fitted for its work.

Repairs and equipment cost[s].

Bereans are already taxed enough.

To raise the needed money arrangements have been made to have a Fiddlers' Contest in the Tabernacle on the College grounds, 8:00 p.m. August 15. A large number of celebrated contestants have entered for the $100 prize. It is expected that needed funds will be raised.

Berea Citizen ~ August 7, 1919

Berea, Kentucky, August 15, 1919

"Nae mair by Babel's stream we'll weep
To think upon our Zion
An' hing our fiddles up to sleep
Like baby clouts a dryin',
But screw the pegs wi' tunefu' cheep
An' o'er the thairms be tryin'
O, rare to see our elbucks wheep
An' a' like lamb tails flyin
     Fu' fast the day."

For old Berea's in the mood
To crack her heels together
And all her people, bad and good
Will want to shake their leather
Before they separate tonight,
For never since Creation
Did such a bunch of fiddlers light
On any town or nation
     As we have here.

There's Hiram Botner on the end
Who dwells where Little Sturgeon's
And Wild Dog's waters meet and blend
And where the laurel burgeons;
And L. E. Cox is next to him,
(His daddy couldn't whistle)
But his old mother had the vim
And made his daddy Hustle
   And scratch for fear.

Now M. A. Moody's local fame
Is like to be extended—
And Alec Lunsford—bless his name—
His music can't be mended.
And Millard Ramsey, (who but he
Should travel with "Black Nancy"?)
Will play some tunes, whate'er they be
To please the ladies' fancy,
     And that's all right.

And, O, Dude Freeman! — Throw your hats!
But ladies, keep your places,
And all you little squalling brats,
Please straighten up your faces
While heedful mothers dry your tears
For Dude will surely lead you
To Paradise by both your ears
Until your mamas need you
     To nurse tonight.

And John S. Gadd, "Old Monkey John,"
Is here to do his durndest,
At six years old he played upon
The fiddle till he learned it
And in the glory of his days
With all the fiddle's sweetness
He'll drown our sorrows while he plays
With wonderful completeness,
     I do believe.

Now John Will Johnson's "Black Jack Grove"
On old Bill Cates's fiddle
Will give the blues a mighty shove
And swat them in the middle.
And "Nigger Inch Along," I fear
Will prove some saints destruction
For Baker plays his tunes, I hear,
Without the least compunction;
     And I should grieve.

We've fiddlers here from far and near,
From June to Hell-for-Sartain,
And Kingdom Come, it does appear,
Has sent us one to start on.
And Big Pine Mountain sends a son—
You'll all be glad to meet him—
But Greasy Creek as sure's a gun
Will try her best to beat him
     And get the dough.

And there are some I do not know,
As worthy as the others,
Who touch the strings and draw the bow
As sweetly as their brothers,
And I would say to lads like you,
Who give your friends such pleasure,
"In all the world the souls are few
With stature to your measure."
     And now we'll go.


Berea Citizen ~ August 14, 1919

Old Time Fiddlers' Meeting

Berea, Ky., August 15, 1919
College Tabernacle
8:00 p.m.


1. Hiram Botner (Travelers Rest, Owsley County, Ky)
a) Billy in the Low Ground
b) Sugar in the Gourd
c) Calahan

2. E. L. Cox (Panola, Estill County, Ky)
a) Jurang's Hornpipe
b) Fisher's Hornpipe
c) Hornpipe (name forgotten)

3. M. A. Moody (Big Hill, Ky)
a) Walk Along John
b) Man Eater
c) Irish Gallop

4. Alec Lunsford (Burning Springs, Clay County, Ky)
a) Ways of the World
b) Hog Skin
c) Sallie Ann

5. Millard Ramsey (Manchester, Clay County, Ky)
a) Adeline
b) Black Nancy
c) Waynesburg

6. Dude Freeman (Owsley County, Ky)
a) Forked Deer
b) Waynesburg
c) Natchez Under the Hill

7. "Monkey" Jno. Gadd (Disputanta, Rockcastle County, Ky)
a) Calahan
b) Big Eared Mule
c) Fisher's Hornpipe

8. John Will Johnson (Big Hill, Ky)
a) Forked Deer
b) Blackjack Grove
c) Run, Nigger, Run

9. Bev Baker (Chavis, Perry County, Ky)
a) Ways of the World
b) Glory in the Meetin' House
c) Nigger Inch Along

10. E. L. Cooper (Bledsoe, Harlan County, Ky)
a) Cackling Hen
b) Parting Friends
c) Buck Creek

11. James Daugherty (Sand Gap, Jackson County, Ky)
a) Calahan
b) Licker All Gone
c) Arkansas Traveler

12. S. F. Wright (Hazard, Perry County, Ky)
a) Ways of the World
b) Cumberland Gap
c) The Last of Sizemore

13. Big Hiram Begley (Hell-fer-sartain, Leslie County, Ky)
a) Bonaparte's Retreat
b) Ways of the World
c) Pretty Polly

14. Anderson Bowling (Teges, Clay County, Ky)
a) Rocky Mountain
b) Cumberland Gap
c) Lost Girl

15. H. F. Green (Bell County, Ky)
a) Nigger Inch Along
b) Lost Girl
c) Sourwood Mountain

Berea Citizen ~ August 21, 1919

Old Fiddlers Night [by John F. Smith]

Under the auspices of [the] Progress Club the people of Berea were given the greatest treat last Friday night that they have had in many moons. It was the Old Fiddlers' Contest, given for the benefit of the citizens of Berea and the Graded School—the money to go to the school and the fun to the folks.

Fifteen royal fiddlers, the pick of the covey, were in the ring. They were culled from the whole tribe of worshippers of the horse hair, from Pine Mountain and Hell-fer-Sartain to Joe's Lick and Pilot Knob. Berea turned out en merry masse to hear the fiddling, and they were not disappointed. No one except those whose musical sense has been revolutionized by a course in a conservatory could have failed to see the fun.

While the Tabernacle was being filled, Mrs. F. M. Livingood, with recitations and an invisible musician with cornet, flute and piccolo, entertained the audience. After some rearrangement of the program the music began.

Hiram Botner, an artist of the first water from the Sturgeon and Wild Dog country, set all the toes a-wiggle with "Billy in the Low Grounds." After that for more than two hours scarcely a foot could be kept still. E. L. Cox, who knows more hornpipes than a highland piper, followed with "Jurang's Hornpipe." Then came M. A. Moody, our neighbor from Big Hill, the man with the delicate touch and exquisite tone, who did the "Irish Gallop" as few can. Alec Lunsford, from Hog Skin Creek, a prince among the old-timers, who never plays a piece badly, touched a responsive chord in everybody's heart with that fine old fiddleized Negro Melody, "The Ways of the World."

By this time feet had begun to slow down a little, but were all set a-wiggle again in high glee by Millard Ramsey with the crack dance tune, "Adeline," on his famous Black Nancy. When the people of Clay want a fiddler with pep—and some of them are the finest dancers and the merriest ever—Millard is usually their choice—either Millard or Alec Lunsford.  Millard is a bit reckless with Black Nancy, but the old instrument is a queen among fiddles, and when she speaks, corns cease to ache and a merry thrill creeps into every toe.

Dude Freeman appeared next and gave us "Forked Deer"—did it well, too. Dude wants no "fotch-on" fiddle, thank you, but made his own instrument. And he made a good one. It sounds better in the parlour than in a large hall for the tone lacks carrying power, but only a first class man could master a fiddle as good as that. Chester Thomas, second to "Monkey" John Gadd followed with "Waynesburg." Then came another neighbour, John Will Johnson, who flung out on "Forked Deer" on Old Bill Cates' fiddle. The jolly old instrument has caused more people to dance into a merry old age than any other in many miles around.

Bev Baker made all the old folks feel young again with that old favorite of our grandparents, "Nigger Inch Along." There came to my mind that splendid thought expressed in a homely way in one of the famous old Negro songs:

"Dar's an ole inch-worm des a-inchin' along,
'Des a inch at a time, but a inch at a time!
Dar's an ole inch-worm des a-inchin' along."

Chester Nolan, second to E. L. Cooper, from Big Splash Dam, on Buck Fork, sent all our thoughts to the barnyard with "Cacklin' Hen." James Daugherty made all the corns dream dreams of sweet peace with "Calahan." This is one of the famous shindig tunes of the countryside. Whenever a band of highland lads and lassies come together at a neighbor's house to go a-tripping it "Calahan" is most likely to be on the boards.

Doc Roberts, second to S. F. Wright, the man who wins, drove away the rheumatism with "Wagoner." This is one of the difficult old breakdowns and only trained fingers can execute it well. Big Hiram Begley, noted for his fiddling at house-warmings in the Hell-fer-Sartain country didn't arrive. His place was taken by C. H. Agee with "Billy in the Low Grounds." Nor did Anderson Bowling who fiddles for the Teges dance folk appear. John Hicks sat in his chair and played "Nigger Inch Along."

Then the last of the ring was reached, H. F. Green and his splendid violin, said to be a Stradivarius. "Nigger Inch Along" was his first number, and the audience never heard it done better. The instrument, whether a "Strad" or not, certainly displayed a royal lineage at the first stroke of the bow. Sweet and clear and with carrying qualities the tones came. The audience at once recognized in Green a fair competitor for first prize. The quality of his instrument was approached by very few of the others, in fact only one or two.

The second round came with goodly numbers. "Sugar in the Gourd," "Man-Eater," "Sally Ann," "Black Jack Grove,""Shortnin' Bread,"  [and] other choice selections follwed fast. "Waynesburg"  rarely sounds so well as it did when Dude Freeman played it. If Dude were to play in some Grove of Daphne he would be certain to start all the satyrs a-dancing with the nymphs and dryads. "Sally Ann" at the touch of Alec Lunsford's fingers took us all to an old Negro plantation where ebony face, ivory teeth and flying heels drove away cares and brought respite to the sorrows of an overburdened race. "Liquor All Gone" bespoke the fact that we are living after July 1st, and that not even a drop of mountain dew was in the ring. Green and his superb instrument with "Sourwood Mountain" made all nimble heels fairly shriek for action. I heard a shuffling of leather throughout the audience in which event the preachers' soles joined.

Then the third round with its succession of thrills. Few of the old-timers ever did or ever will excel Botner in "Calahan," Ramsey in "Waynesburg," Roberts in "Turkey in the Straw," or Green in "Lost Girl." Every one of these pieces was a hum-dinger. So was Lunsford's "Hogskin." The audience never before heard "Turkey in the Straw" as it was done by Doc Roberts.

And that number of Doc's convinced the judges that he was entitled to the first prize of $50. The second prize was awarded to Dude Freeman and his "own make" and the third to the hornpipe man, E. L. Cox. The decision of the judges came as a surprise to the audience who would doubtless have voted for other favorites. But every player deserved a bouquet and a smile.

The night had approached the witching hour when the audience went away, happier and months younger because of the soulful melodies it had heard.

Thanks to you men whose skill and native musical ability keep the world about you young. You keep alive a class of music that is great and thrilling, and as native to the soil as the dogwood blossom and the wild rose. Your music makes up the foundation on which many of our greatest musical themes have been developed. Your message is a gospel of merriment, and we'd all be poorer in spirit without you.

Berea Citizen ~ August 21, 1919

Quite a number from this section attended the Fiddlers' Contest, given at Berea Tabernacle, August 17 [sic]. Most of the Mountaineers experienced disappointment at Mr. Freeman receiving only second prize, as he has held the championship among his contemporaries for the past forty years.

Berea Citizen ~ August 21, 1919

Everybody is surprised and delighted with the financial success of the Big Fiddlers' Meeting last Friday night.

Many improvements are needed at the Public School, and the teachers are delighted to note the interest of so many public spirited people of Berea in behalf of the school.

Berea Citizen ~ August 21, 1919

Old Fiddlers' Contest at Blue Grass Fair

It pays to advertise and then "make good" as was done at the Fiddlers' Concert DeLuxe held in Berea last Friday. People came from far and near, among the visitors being Secretary Walker of the Lexington Fair Association.

He was so inspired by the occasion that he is arranging to have a similar contest at the Blue Grass Fair in Lexington during the week of September 1 to 6.

Berea Citizen ~ August 28, 1919


In our account of the Old Fiddlers' Contest last week we neglected to state that the proceeds amounted to over $500, and when all incidental expenses were paid there was $400 clear, to be used to purchase much needed equipment for the graded school. The prize money amounting to $100 was donated by pubic spirited citizens of Berea and vicinity.

Berea Citizen ~ October 2, 1919


E. F. Dizney, Principal

Friday evening, 3 o'clock, October 10, Parent-Teachers' Association meets in the Public School Auditorium. Friends and patrons of the school are invited to come. At this meeting we expect County Superintendent B. F. Edwards and Prof. Harris, school supervisor. Also Doc Roberts is expected to be present with his famous violin that has won so many handsome prizes. It was this violin that carried away from Berea, August 15, the $50 prize at [the] Old Fiddlers' Contest. Mr. Roberts' brother hopes to come with his violin.

It will be remembered by many how Mr. Roberts took that audience off its feet with "Turkey in the Straw." Come and hear him again.


Berea Citizen ~ July 15, 1920

[This ad ran several times in July and August]


Berea Citizen ~ July 22, 1920

It has been necessary to change the date of the "Old-time Fiddlers' Meeting" which is to be held in the College Tabernacle. The new date is Saturday evening, August 21.

Berea Citizen ~ August 12, 1920


Berea Citizen ~ August 19, 1920


The fiddlers are comin', yo ho! yo ho! Berea's big annual shindig, the fun mill that oils up ancient joints and puts a new polish on everybody's heel is almost upon us again. Already some of the old settlers are secretly reported to be practicing the still foot behind closed doors. These same feet that behave fairly well for 364 days in the year become young and oily and shaky-like on the 365th day, and give the folks who stand on them a deal of concern. Gentle dignity that stays put for a whole year becomes as nimble as a hare about the time the fiddlers come and sports and gambols like a lithe young thing at the first twitch of the bow.

It is also currently reported that certain ones are practicing the fiddle-grin. This particular species of grin shows itself on everybody's face the moment he enters the door where the fiddling is to be heard—and even those who frequent the pulpits are not immune. One may always calculate the density of the memories by the extent of the grin—the square of the density always increasing in direct proportion to the square of the area occupied by the grin.

Yo ho, the fiddlers are comin'! There'll be "Forked Deer" and "Calahan." "Wagoner" and "Leather Britches," "Waynesburg" and "Cacklin' Hen," "Hog Skin" and "Walk Along, John," "Man-Eater" and "Billy in the Low Ground," and whole scads of other prize-winning fiddle truck, and it'll be played by the hum-dingin'est lot of fiddle folk that ever shoved a bow or strung up a catgut. Dude Freeman, Alex Lunsford, Hiram Botner, Frank Green, Uncle Larkin Hicks and a whole battery of other princes of the rosined bow will call up the merry shindig days when lads tripped it with the lasses on the squeaky floors of long ago—and everybody was happy and the cost of living caused no sorrow.

Yo, ho, the fiddlers are comin'!

Gentle reader, let me whisper this in parting. The writer has listened to thrills like this for many a day, and he knows from experience how readily dignity melts away like an icicle. The only safe thing to do is for everyone to provide himself either with handcuffs or a pair of strong leather belts, and at the first twang of the catgut, to tether his feet with a gordian knot to the chair posts. There is positively no other safe way.

Yo, ho, for the fiddlers; give 'em a cheer!

—J. F. Smith.


[I have not located clippings about a fiddle contest in 1922. However, Dr. Alson Baker published the following piece in May of that year. Baker was fond of writing poems and published quite a few in the pages of the local paper over the years.—SG]

Berea Citizen ~ May 4, 1922

"The Fork-ed Deer"
By Alson Baker

O, I was born among the hills
And dragged up by the hair—
I wasn't raised, but roved around
And grew up everywhere
And always as I romped and roved
My heart rejoiced to hear
When ancient fiddlers tuned their strings
And played the "Fork-ed Deer."

I've traveled up and down the land
From Florida to Maine—
I've seen the Georgia Darkies dance
Among the sugar cane;
I've seen the rich folks bored and sad
When dame and cavalier
Shook fancy rags to fancy tunes—
But not to "Fork-ed Deer."

I've worn the khaki 'round the world,
And heard the famous bands
Of fifty nations play their tunes
In fifty foreign lands;
I've danced among the dancing folks
In every hemisphere,
But never yet have heard a tune
To touch the "Fork-ed Deer."

I've heard the famous Violins
Who play for kings and queens—
I've lived through hours of classic noise,
But don't know what it means!
I've seen a great musician smile
And wipe away a tear
To think that he had never learned
To play the "Fork-ed Deer."

I don't know where the fiddlers go,
Nor why they ever die!
But if there is a place where they
Are gathered by and by,
I hope to go where they have gone
And when I wake to hear
An angel band a billion strong
Strike up the "Fork-ed Deer."


Berea Citizen ~ August 28, 1924


There will be an old-time Fiddler's Contest at the Tabernacle on Saturday, September 6th, at 7:30 p.m.

All good fiddlers are invited to take part. Twenty fiddlers will be allowed to play two times each.

All those wishing to enter the contest must see A. B. Strong at College Tabernacle in [the] morning or afternoon of September 6th.

First prize, $25; second, $15; third, $10. First prize for fiddle played with accompaniment, $10; second, $5. First prize for break-down dancing, $5; second, $3. This means fiddling and dancing.

Admission: Adults, 50c; children, 25c.

Berea Citizen ~ September 11, 1924


Proceeds To Go Toward the Purchase of a Moving Picture Machine To Be Used in Rural Schools and Communities.

The Fiddler's Contest, which was staged at the Tabernacle last Saturday evening, drew a packed house. At least 800 people, it is estimated, were in attendance.

The Contest was put on by the Normal Department, and was managed by Mr. A. B. Strong of Scaffold Cane.

The purpose of this occasion was to procure funds to purchase a movable movie machine which can be attached to an automobile, and in that way enable the operator to show pictures at any place where an auto will go.

The outfit consists of a dynamo which is run by a belt from the rear wheel of the automobile. This dynamo produces sufficient electricity to make a powerful incandescent light for the movie equipment.

The Contest was very satisfactory, and the proceeds amounted to approximately two hundred and some dollars, which will go toward that fund.

Those who were present last Saturday night were well entertained. People came from all the surrounding neighborhoods. There were 15 fiddlers in the Contest. V. M. Daniel played "Arkansaw Traveler" and "Mississippi Sawyer;" Lola Cornett of West Burg played "Birdie" and "Fat Goose;" Hiram Botner of Traveler's Rest (Owsley county) played "Callahan" and "Billy in the Low Land;" H. K. Bowman of Richmond played "Buck Creek" and "Lost Indian;" Chas. Brinegar of Ravenna played "Black Eyed Susie" and "Negro, Inch Along;" David Freeman of Bell Point played "Wagoner" and "Forest Deer" [sic]; Moab Freeman of Winchester played "Hog Eye Man" and "Glass in the Meeting House" [sic]; J. J. Suttle of Bond played "Daniel Boone" and "Dancing Bow;" John M. Roberts of Union City played "Old Kentucky Home" and "Massa's in the Cold, Cold Ground;" L. R. Roberts of Union City played "Shortenin' Bread" and "Dixie;" A. T. Wovlery [sic] of Richmond played "Nigger, Run!" and "Wild Goose;" J. W. Johnson of Berea played "Cumberland Gap," "Go Away With My Duck," and "Go Away With My Chicken;" G. C. Maupin of Richmond played "Arkansaw Traveler" and "Flat Rock;" Doc Roberts of Richmond played "Billy in the Low Ground" and "Turkey in the Straw;" M. A. Moody of Berea played "Walk Along, John" and "Water Melon on the Vine."

The judges were Dr. A. F. Cornelius, John O'Dell, and John Farmer. The first prize of $25 was won by Hiram Botner, the second prize of $15 by Moab Freeman, and the third prize of $10 was given to J. W. Johnson. Some of the fiddlers had an accompaniment on the guitar. For these fiddlers, the audience was the judge. The first prize of $10 went to Lola and Vola Cornett, and the second prize of $5 went to L. A. Maupin [sic] and J. J. Suttle.

Four entered the Dancing Contest: Lola Cornett, Clod Oliver, V. O. Rader, and M. A. Moody. The first prize of $5 went to Clod Oliver, and the second prize of $3 went to Lola Cornett. Tom Harris (colored) volunteered to dance. The audience gave him splendid applause.

The school which sold the most tickets was Scaffold Cane, Mrs. Locklin, chairman; second, Kingston, Misses Fullerton and Trent, chairmen; third, West Union, Mr. Holt, chairman; fourth Hickory Plain, Miss Hendricks, chairman; fifth White's Station, Mrs. Powers, chairman; sixth, Silver Creek, Mrs. Abney, chairman; seventh, Estridge, Mr. Kilburn, chairman; eighth, Big Hill, Mr. Hendricks, chairman.

Each school selling $15 or more worth of tickets will receive a free picture show. The first five schools are entitled to a free movie. White's Station and Hickory Plain tied for fourth place.


Berea Citizen ~ August 5, 1925


Proceeds Go to Fund Being Raised For Betterment Of Rural Schools


Many Widely Known Fiddlers Are Entrants In Contest

The Berea Kiwanis Club is holding an old time fiddlers' meeting on Aug. 21 in the Berea College Tabernacle. The proceeds of the meeting are to go to the fund being raised by the Kiwanis Club for rural betterment in Southern Madison and Northern Rockcastle counties.

The contest is open to all good fiddlers that can be accomodated up to fifteen in number. Fifteen contestants will be allowed to play two tunes each. Plans are made to have five players play one tune each with accompaniment. As an additional feature there will be a breakdown contest limited to five entrants.

Liberal prizes have been offered for the winners in all the contests. They range from $25.00 to $3.00.

Those in charge of the arrangements for the meeting declare that the contests this year will be the most stirring ever witnessed in Berea. Application[s] for entrance have been received from many widely known fiddlers, one of whom has played before the king of England.

In connection with the sale of tickets for the meeting the Kiwanis Club is staging a prize contest in which a $35.00 bicycle will be given away. The tickets range in price from $1.00 for reserved seats to 15 cents for children in the less choice seats.

Berea Citizen ~ August 27, 1925


The old time fiddler's meeting held in the Berea College Tabernacle, Friday night. August 21 at 7:30 drew a crowd of perhaps a thousand in number. Eight fiddlers and three dancers took part in the contests. J. J. Suttles of Olin, Kentucky added much merriment and amusement to the occasion by his funny and unique instrumental selections and songs.

The contestants were as follows: Fiddlers—Claude Agee, Doc Roberts, A. J. McClanahan, and H. K. Bowman of Richmond, J. J. Suttles, Olin; Newt Freeman, Winchester; Hiram Botner, Traveler's Rest, and Brenniger of Irvine. Dancers—Claude Agee, Claude Oliver and A. J. McClanahan.

Brenniger of Irvine won the first prize of $25 in the fiddlers contest; Doc Roberts of Richmond won the second prize of $15 and Newt Freeman of Winchester the third prize of $10.

Hiram Botner of Traveler's Rest and his second in the fiddle with guitar accompaniment contest won the $10 first prize. Claude Oliver and his second took the second prize of $5.

Claude Agee of Richmond showed himself the best break down dancer and won a $10 prize. Claude Oliver came second and won $5 as second prize.

The $35 bicycle offered to the boy or girl who sold the most tickets went to Ruby Powell of Silver Creek School district.

The old fiddlers contest was put on by the Berea Kiwanis Club. The funds raised are to be used in promoting the plan recently adopted by the club for the improvement of rural schools in southern Madison and northern Rockcastle counties.

It is interesting to note that visitors from distant places came to Berea to witness the unique contest. One man, Mr. W. C. Taylor, came all the way from Appalachia, Va., to hear the fiddlers fiddle.


Berea Citizen ~ August 2, 1928


County Representative for State Meet Chosen; Doc Roberts Wins First Place

Three String Bands met in the Tabernacle last Saturday evening and started a real Old-Time Fiddler's Contest. The bands contesting were: Strong's String Band, of Berea; McNews String Band of Kirksville, Ky., and the Harris String Band (Colored) of Dreyfus, Ky. The string instruments used were: the Banjo, Harmonica, Ukelele, Banjo Uke, Violin, Mandolin and Guitar.

There were ten representatives from Madison County and two from other counties. The following contestants were from Berea: John W. Johnson, W. B. Harris, Matt Moody, L. R. Roberts, Chas. J. James and Doc Roberts from Richmond. John Whittaker from Kirksville, Ky., Rayburn Rose from Dreyfus, Ky., Van B. Kidwell, from Brassfield, Ky., John S. Gadd, from Wildie, Ky., and Roland Witt from Willow Tree, Ky.

Much enthusiasm was manifested at the meeting of the fiddlers since the contest was for the purpose of selecting the best fiddler from this country. A State contest is to be held at Louisville within the next year, the ones chosen from each county will be represented there.

The judges at the contest Saturday night were Prof. J. C. Bowman, Judge J. D. Goodloe and Nath Welch.

The winners in the contest for the county were: Doc Roberts first, Van Kidwell second, John Whitaker, third, and John W. Johnson fourth.

Doc Roberts and Van Kidwell will compete in the Estill contest given at Ravenna Graded School Saturday night.

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