After a year away, the Twin Lakes National Fiddler Championship returned to celebrate its 10th anniversary before enthusiastic crowds on Leitchfield Public Square this past Saturday.
It was fitting then that the 10th anniversary of the beloved contest would draw contestants from 10 states to Leitchfield, the Fiddling Capital of Kentucky.
“I think it went great,” said contest organizer Ed Carnes. “We had 88 contestants from 10 states. I think it was very well attended.”
On behalf of the contest, Carnes wished to thank Leitchfield Mayor Rick Embry, Grayson County Judge Executive Kevin Henderson, Grayson County Sheriff Norman Chaffins, Leitchfield Police Chief David Riley, Ilsa Johnson and Leitchfield Tourism, Leitchfield Parks & Recreation Director Tammee Saltsman, Grayson County Tourism, the vendors, the volunteers, and the citizens in Leitchfield and Grayson County who helped make the event happen.
Kevin Mudd returned this year as the event’s Master of Ceremonies and expressed his excitement for the event’s return after last year’s cancellation due to COVID-19, as well as his pride that the event has reached its 10th anniversary.
“It feels great to be back,” he said on Saturday. “It’s a beautiful day. Everybody seems to be in a really good mood.”
That excitement was shared by this year’s competitors, as well.
Tim Houchin, who travelled from Lexington, Kentucky, to perform with his sons, said they felt blessed to have come through the pandemic to be able to take part in the contest once again after previously competing in it two years ago.
While performances continued throughout the day, the music could not be contained to the stage. Scattered throughout Leitchfield Public Square, which was closed to traffic from last Friday afternoon through Sunday morning for the event, were musicians from across the country practicing and jamming together.
Justin Branum, who previously judged the contest and would go on to win the Young Adult Fiddle, Mandolin, and Championship Fiddle-Off contests, said he tries to go to as many fiddling contests as possible.
“It’s always a good time to go to a fiddle contest,” he said.
The full list of this year’s Twin Lakes National Fiddler Championship first place winners, as well as the contest’s judges, is below:
Small Fry Fiddle (Ages 8 and Under): Sabrina Patel, of Burlington, North Carolina
Junior Junior Fiddle (Ages 9 through 12): McKenna Petersen, of Fulshear, Texas
Guitar: Tyler Andal, of Nashville, Tennessee
Junior Fiddle (Ages 13 through 17): Tanner Marriott, of Ava, Missouri
Young Adult Fiddle (Ages 18 to 39): Justin Branum, of Nashville, Tennessee
Mandolin: Justin Branum, of Nashville, Tennessee.
Adult Fiddle (Ages 40 to 59): Junior Marriott, of Ava, Missouri
Senior Fiddle (Ages 60 and Over): Marcia Denton, of Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Banjo: Tony Rothrock, of Winslow, Indiana
Dancing — No Holds Barred (All Ages): Reagan Brown, of Springfield, Tennessee
Championship Fiddle-Off: Justin Branum, of Nashville, Tennessee
Bud Meredith Showmanship Award: Noah Goebel
Judges: Bubba Hopkins, Cody Stadelmaier, and Mark Ralph
In addition to the music, numerous vendors and a car show set up around the square as well.
Helping to kick off the weekend’s festivities last Friday, alongside the city of Leitchfield’s annual fireworks display, was the free to attend Grayson County Bluegrass Opry.
Bluegrass Opry Manager Barry Downs said last Friday’s special show drew a larger than expected crowd.
“It was a full house with at least 125 people,” Downs said, adding that four bands performed for the appreciative and supportive audience: McDonald Road band, of Leitchfield; Sassybrown Band, of Evansville, Indiana; Fowler Boyz and Friends Band, of Hardin County, Kentucky; and Hickory Grove Band, of Leitchfield.
The next Grayson County Bluegrass Opry show will be on Friday, Aug. 20 in the old judicial building, located at 125 East White Oak St. in Leitchfield.