Fiddle contest was a toe-tapping good time

Brooke Curley Photo/Gila Valley Central: Riley Flowers practices his piece for the 2017 contest.

By Brooke Curley

SAFFORD – Fiddlers gathered to show their stuff and have fun at the 38th annual Eastern Arizona Old Time Fiddlers Contest last weekend.

The contest, which began Friday afternoon and lasted until Sunday afternoon, was an event that included fiddlers of every age. Kevin DeRusha, vice president of the Eastern Arizona Old Time Fiddlers Association, told Gila Valley Central that the aspect he enjoys the most about the contest is to see the progress of the younger fiddlers.

“I think the best things is seeing the young kids coming up and the ones that take to it and really improve and practice,” DeRusha said. “Every year they get better and better. It’s just amazing to see their progress from year to year. That’s what I like the most.”

Brooke Curley Photo/Gila Valley Central: Young at Heart performs a set Saturday morning.

To those who have never been able to come out to see the fiddling contest, DeRusha says that you are missing out.

“You need to come and see this, (and) to feel the energy and be around some of the great fiddlers that come here from all over the country and to enjoy the music and get right up next to it so you can really feel it,” DeRusha said. “It’s a great experience.”

Last year, the contest included 165 contestants. Many of the contestants travel to the Gila Valley from multiple states. Beginning 38 years ago by the Woman’s Club, the contest has humble beginnings. Originally, those performing would stand on the flat of the trailer bed. Eventually, the contest was moved to the Graham County Fairgrounds, where it has stayed ever since. The event is always on the second weekend of February.

“The more the merrier,” DeRusha said.  “Come out and enjoy it.”

Brooke Curley Photo/Gila Valley Central: From left, Kevin DeRusha (Vice President), Beth Cox (President) and Kim Skinner (Secretary) of the Eastern Arizona Old Time Fiddlers Association pause before rejoining the action inside.

On Sunday, the contest continued and folks stayed around for the Show Your Stuff money contest, where $2,250 in cash was awarded.

Show Your Stuff  Fiddle Contest Winners

First Place: Jess Barry, winner of the $1,000 prize.

Second Place: Will MacDonald, winner of the $750 prize

Third Place: Emily Anslover,  winner of the $500 prize