For more information or if you have any questions, send us an email at this link: Judging Questions or call Boge Quinn at (931) 647-7261

Meet the Judges!


Special Notes

1. All events must have a minimum of 4 entrants for prizes to be awarded.

2. All contestants in 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th place and Fiddle-Off will receive Awards Certificates.

3. All judges are selected based on their knowledge and experience. Past winners are encouraged to submit their names for future consideration as Judges, contact Boge Quinn at (931) 647-7261 (email

4. For a complete listing of Hotels and Motels in the Clarksville area, contact the Clarksville Area Chamber of Commerce at (931) 647-2331 or visit online at

5. For specific questions concerning music competition as well as Judging, contact Boge Quinn at (931) 647-7261 (email

6. Full-service concessions on premises.

7. Smoking, Vaping, and Drugs are NOT PERMITTED in the Wilma Rudolph Event Center. Violators are subject to expulsion from the premises, or arrest by local Law Enforcement as warranted; no refunds of admission will be offered.



I. General Rules

1. No electric amplification or drums will be permitted in any category, with the exception of Blue Grass Bands. Electric Bass WILL BE ALLOWED in the Blue Grass Band category ONLY - a bass amplifier will be provided on-stage, and must be used by any player wishing to play Electric Bass.

2. ALL CATEGORIES (with the exception of Open Fiddle) will be SINGLE ELIMINATIONS (NO FINAL ROUND). Contestants will perform TWO TUNES, with the exception of Pee Wee Fiddle. This may be changed to one tune due to time constraints, at the discretion of contest officials. Pee Wee Fiddle contestants will perform ONE TUNE.

3. Contestants in the Open Fiddle category will perform two tunes in the eliminations, to include a waltz* and a breakdown**.

Five Finalists will be chosen for the Fiddle-Off Championship from the Open Fiddle category. In addition to these five finalists, all past Tennessee State Champions automatically qualify for the Fiddle-Off Championship, and do not have to play in the preliminary round unless they so desire. $50.00 prizes will be awarded to all remaining finalists beyond 5th place. All contestants in the Fiddle-Off Championship will perform two tunes of choice***

Contestants in the Pee-Wee Fiddle (Age 10 & Under) category will perform ONE TUNE, with no restrictions on type of tune to be played. Contestants in the Pee-Wee Fiddle category will NOT be eligible for the Fiddle-Off Championship. If a contestant under the age of 10 so desires, he/she may enter the Open Fiddle category instead of the Pee-Wee Fiddle category.

4. Contestants in the Blue Grass Band category will perform TWO TUNES. The winner of the Blue Grass Band contest must play a one-hour set at the end of the competition.

5. Contestants performing in the individual performer categories may perform unaccompanied, or with no more than two accompanists.

6. Fiddle contestants will be divided by age as follows: Pee-Wee Fiddle+ (Age 10 & Under); Open Fiddle (Age 11 & Over).

+Pee-Wee Fiddle winner will NOT compete in the Championship Fiddle-Off. If a contestant under the age of 10 so desires, he/she may enter the Open Fiddle category instead of the Pee-Wee Fiddle category.

7. Contestants who win first place in any category for two consecutive years will become eligible to compete again in that category only after refraining from competition in that category for one year.

8. Tunes performed during the eliminations may not be repeated in the finals.

9. Medleys will NOT be allowed.

* A Waltz is obviously in 3/4 time.

** A breakdown - or hoedown as they are called in some parts of the country is played in 2/4 time or cut time.  This would apply to hornpipes, reels, or any related genre of tune that is played in 2/4 time. A breakdown also has at least two 8 bar sections, maybe more, with repeats. Some tunes (certainly of the Blue Grass flavor) may not follow the 8 bars per section formula exactly. However, they will be perceived as 2/4 or cut time. Breakdowns are traditionally for square dancing, which requires 8 measures to each set of calls for the dance.

*** A Tune of Choice CANNOT be a breakdown or a waltz.  Many times polkas, swing tunes, jigs, and rags to name a few are played for a tune of choice. Tunes of choice are typically in 4/4 time or in some other meter like 6/8 or other weird times, anything along those lines works.



II. Restrictions on Performances in Certain Categories

1. Open Fiddle Category - Contestants will not be permitted to use the following tunes as their breakdown** in either the eliminations or the finals: Orange Blossom Special, Black Mountain Rag, and Listen To The Mockingbird. All contestants will be required to play one waltz* selection and one breakdown** selection in both the eliminations and the finals. Winners of the finals in the three fiddle categories will play two tunes of choice*** during the Fiddle-Off.

2. Blue Grass Banjo and Blue Grass Band categories - Performers are urged to avoid songs that have been "picked to death" (for example, Foggy Mountain Breakdown, John Henry, John Hardy). The use of "Scruggs tuners" will not be permitted. Blue Grass Bands must have at least three members and not more than six members. Bands are strongly encouraged to perform at least one vocal number (this is not required, however). 

3. Blue Grass Band Category - Musicians may not play or sing in more than one band within a category.

4. No monologues allowed on stage by contestants.

5. No singing is permitted in individual instrument categories.



III. Judging Criteria - Music Categories

1. Rhythm and Timing - The judges will look for even, consistent rhythm. Rushing, dragging, or unevenness in performance will result in lost points in this category.

2. Creativity - The judges will look for variations, improvisations and "good licks". Repetitious performance (i.e., using the same "licks" over and over in the same tune) will result in lost points.

3. Authenticity and Taste - The judges will look for selection of authentic performance styles in each category. Indiscriminate use of variations that make the base tune unclear (for example, use of "hokum" bowing or "double shuffle" in the fiddle categories), and inappropriate modern licks will result in lost points.

4. Expression - The judges will look for the feeling that the contestants put into their performance. Flat, mechanical, unfeeling performances will result in lost points, as will excessive "showmanship".

5. Execution - The judges will look for tone quality, clarity, and general command of the instrument(s). Bad tone and muffled notes will result in lost points.

NOTE: Points earned in the eliminations will not carry over to the finals.



IV. Contestant Regulations

1. No Entry Fees will be charged for entering events, and there is no limit to the number of events that you can enter. 

All contestants will receive a contestant number at registration, and this number will remain the same regardless of how many categories the contestant enters - for example, if a contestant receives #5 at registration, and enters the guitar, mandolin, banjo and band contests, the contestant's number will remain #5 throughout the event in all contests entered.

The contestant's name and number will be used on-stage for the purpose of informing and entertaining spectators, but the judges (who will be cloistered inside a sealed room), will be aware of only the contestant's number, and will not hear the names of contestants announced.  

2. Contestants will be called from the stage when it is time for them to perform. If there is no response, contestant may be disqualified from that category at the discretion of contest officials.

3. Registration for each category will be closed when competition in that category begins.


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Last modified: May 24, 2019

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