There are two band and twelve individual contests at the Convention, which includes adults and youth competitions. Registration will begin in the spring of 2018.

Band Contests will be held for:

  • Old-Time Band
  • Bluegrass Band

Bands must consist of at least three different string instruments, one being a fiddle or a banjo. Separate contests are held for Youth bands in each category.

Individual Contests will be held for:

  • Bluegrass fiddle
  • Old-time fiddle
  • Bluegrass banjo
  • Old-time banjo (clawhammer)
  • Guitar
  • Mandolin
  • Bass
  • Dobro
  • Dulcimer
  • Autoharp
  • Folk Song
  • Dance

Any individual may register with only one band and may enter dance contest, folk song, and one other instrument contest.

Prize Money

Competition winners are awarded prize money, ribbons or trophies with $5,260 in cash prizes plus ribbons awarded to contestants as follows:

Category 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th
Bluegrass Band $800 $400 $300 $200 $150
Old-Time Band $800 $400 $300 $200 $150
Bluegrass Fiddle $50 $40 $10 $10 $10
Old-Time Fiddle $50 $40 $10 $10 $10
Bluegrass Banjo $50 $40 $10 $10 $10
Old-Time Banjo $50 $40 $10 $10 $10
Guitar $50 $40 $10 $10 $10
Mandolin $50 $40 $10 $10 $10
Bass $50 $40 $10 $10 $10
Dobro $50 $40 $10 $10 $10
Dulcimer $50 $40 $10 $10 $10
Autoharp $50 $40 $10 $10 $10
Folk Song $50 $40 $10 $10 $10
Dance (Adult) $50 $40 $10 $10 $10
Dance (Youth) $50 $40 $10 $10 $10

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Please read and understand the rules of the convention. This is to help up complete our schedule within curfew time. Band manager please inform individuals. Rules apply to both Youth and Adult contestants.

  • Contestants must be registered by May 31, 2018.
  • All band mangers must report to Office before 5 p.m. Friday.
  • No registration on the night of the Convention.
  • If not registered you cannot play in the competition.
  • Only string instruments will be judged.
  • No electric instruments in competition.
  • Contestants will be charged $20.00, $10.00 refunded Saturday night after performance. Contestants must pay contestant ticket, not general admission ticket.
  • ALL BANDS MUST PERFORM Friday and Saturday night to be eligible for prizes
  • ALL INDIVIDUALS will perform only once, beginning Saturday at 9:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.
  • Adult dancers will perform after band competition Saturday night. No money refund to dancers or folk songs. Prizes awarded only.
  • Paperless registration only. Email information to or register online
  • Bands must register under band name, individual members may also enter one other string instrument contest, as well as folk singing and dancing if they desire. However, no individual shall enter more than one string instrument besides their band.
  • To qualify, a band must consist of at least 3 different string instruments, one being a fiddle or banjo.
  • No bluegrass banjo allowed in an old-time band.
  • Only one instrument will be allowed as accompaniment in any individual competition.
  • In filing entry, all contestants agree that the sponsors may tape and record performances free of claim of contestants.
  • Registered contestants will not be reimbursed for general admission tickets.
  • Veterans Memorial Park has exclusive right to reproduce any and all music played at the convention.
  • No exceptions to any of the above rules.
  • No band will consist of over 6 instruments.
  • The judges' decisions are final in all instances .
  • No alcohol, drugs or pets (excluding dogs on a leash, none allowed near stage or audience viewing area) allowed on grounds.
  • Band members that register for individual competition will be refunded $10 of their contestant money when they come off stage on Saturday night. Individuals that register and not with a band will be refunded $10 of their contestant money. Band members must perform Friday & Saturday. Children should register on same form as adults. Indicate youth in your registration.
  • Armbands must be worn at all times. Anyone not wearing an armband will be asked to purchase one or leave the grounds.
  • No generators allowed.

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Youth Competition

The Surry Arts Council is pleased to be a part of the Youth Competition during the Convention. Free youth lessons will be held at the Old-Time Music Heritage Hall at the Historic Earle Theatre in Downtown Mount Airy on Thursday evening before the festival, starting at 5:30 pm. The SAC sponsors workshops and host jam sessions during the Convention and throughout the year. To learn more about the Traditional Arts Programs (TAPS) with free fiddle and guitar lessons for area youth as well as other traditional arts, please visit their website.

Youth (ages 16 and under) compete in the same categories as the adult in separate contests during the weekend.


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