After the event experienced tremendous growth from the 2012 contest to the 2013 event, a large crowd of participants are expected this year, with an increase in prize money also:
- Fiddler contestants in 2012 – 45; in 2013 – 77 an increase of 171%
- Fiddler contestants under the age of 18 in 2012 – 25; in 2013 – 57, an increase of 228%
- Total prize money in 2012 - $4,615.00; in 2013 -- $7,645, an increase of 166%.
The judges, as announced by the event’s web site are:
Kelly has won many prestigious fiddle contests; was Roy Acuff's last "Smoky Mountain Boy" fiddle player on the Grand Ole Opry and has developed a successful career as a sideman, touring with Country stars Pam Tillis, Steve Wariner, Faith Hill, Lonestar, SheDaisy, Alan Jackson, and currently with Clint Black.
Kelly has performed on the stages of the Kennedy Center; the Grammy, CMA and ACM Awards shows; the Tonight Show; the David Letterman Show; Good Morning America and Carnegie Hall.
A native Pennsylvanian, Dan began playing fiddle at age eight, and by the age of 12 he had won the Canadian National Open Fiddle Championship. During his contest career, he went on to win the state championships of Pennsylvania, Indiana, Ohio, Maryland, Kentucky, Tennessee, and West Virginia, as well as the Mid-America Championship twice. In 1983, at the age of seventeen, Dan won the most famous fiddle title in the nation, the Grand Master Fiddler Championship.
Branum is a freelance fiddle, mandolin, and guitar player in Nashville, TN. Starting on fiddle at age 12, Justin began playing fiddling contests and soon branched out into the styles of western swing, jazz, country, and bluegrass.
In 2008, Branum won his age division at the National Old-Time Fiddler's Contest, and in 2010 he won the Tennessee State Fiddle Contest, the Gone to Texas Fiddle Contest and the Grand Master Fiddler Contest.
He holds a Masters in Jazz Performance from Webster University in St. Louis, and has been on adjunct faculty as the fiddle and mandolin professor for both Webster and Washington Universities in St. Louis, MO.
Wyatt is the current Missouri State Fiddle Champion and has competed and judged at hundreds of contests across the country. Matt grew up listening to the fiddle and developed a love and respect for music at a young age. Matt learned directly from some of Missouri's best fiddlers, including his Grandpa “Bud” Wyatt, his great-grandpa Charlie Wyatt, and many others.
Growing up, his father Allen took him to nearly every contest in Missouri and all over the country. Wyatt graduated from Belmont, in Nashville, with a degree in Commercial Music. During his time in Nashville, he played on the Grand Ole Opry and at the Ryman while touring with Jerry ”Jug” and Tammy Sullivan. He played with many other artists as well and now plays with the Saint Louis based band Swing Deville.
Through his experiences, Matt has developed his skills and his knowledge of the traditions of old-time fiddling makes him a direct link to that driving sound. Matt owns the Wyatt Violin Shop along with his father, in Kansas City, MO