Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Partly Cloudy Day 44° Partly Cloudy
A&E >  Entertainment

Fiddlers tune up for contest

Annual event is qualifier for national competition

Darrin Meeks, left, and Drew Miller accompany fiddle contestant Dani Jo Meeks during the 2013 Northwest Regional Fiddle Contest.
Darrin Meeks, left, and Drew Miller accompany fiddle contestant Dani Jo Meeks during the 2013 Northwest Regional Fiddle Contest.

“Arkansas Traveler.” “Edelweiss.” “Five Foot Two.” “Festival Waltz.”

These are just a few of the old-time songs contestants are likely to perform this weekend during the 47th annual Northwest Regional Fiddle Contest.

The contest, which is a certified qualifier for the National Oldtime Fiddlers Contest & Festival held in June in Weiser, Idaho, could draw as many as 130 contestants, said Ed Miller, the contest’s chairman, president and “chief money getter.”

As of Monday, there were 114 contestants registered, Miller said, more than last year. He expects to see more sign up at the event. He credits the improving economy and low gas prices for the uptick in interest, as more families are willing to drive their fiddlers to the contest.

But they’ll also bring plenty of local talent as well. Accompanying the fiddlers will be three award-winning guitarists, all from the Inland Northwest: Darin Meeks, Terry Ludiker and Rod Anderson. Among the local fiddle contestants is Justin Sherfy, who won the junior national title last year. Contestants will range in age from 4 to 90, Miller said.

Judges are sequestered, so they can’t be influenced by how adorable the kids look in their outfits. Contestants are judged purely on the music, Miller said – their intonation, their timing and the danceability or groove. They’ll have four minutes to play three songs and cannot use sheet music.

This year, the contest has expanded its boundaries beyond its usual region of eight northwestern states (Washington, Idaho, Oregon, Alaska, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming) and the three western-most Canadian provinces, Miller said. As the only remaining “regional” contest left in the nation, it made sense to open the doors to other contestants. Fiddlers from Utah and even California have signed up to compete, he said.

The event will also feature a tribute to Tony Ludiker, a five-time national champion fiddler from Spokane Valley who died in December at age 52. Miller hopes to get a couple of the contest judges up on stage to perform some of the songs Ludiker was known for, such as “Sally Goodin.’ ”

“He was very important to the fiddle community around here,” he said. “He and his ex-wife JayDean are one of the big reasons fiddling is still around here.”

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

Local journalism is essential.

Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.

Active Person

Subscribe to the Spokane7 email newsletter

Get the day’s top entertainment headlines delivered to your inbox every morning.