Official Contest Rules

General Rules


  1. TIME LIMIT – Not more than four minutes, unless noted differently in SPECIFIC CLASS RULES. Contestants may use less playing time. Playing after the time limit will not be judged and may be stopped.
  2. CLASS ENTRIES – A Contestant may enter one individual class, the Novelty class, Gospel class, plus either the Duet class.
  3. TUNES AND ORDER – Must play a Waltz in 3/4 time; a jig in 6/8 time; and Reel or Breakdown or Hornpipe in 2/4 or 4/4 time, in that order, unless specified otherwise in CLASS RULES. Failure to adhere to order will result in disqualification.  Tunes played in the preliminary round may be repeated in the finals, except in the Championship class.
  4. STYLE- Must be a Canadian old time style. Double stops are considered to be not acceptable except in very occasional and limited use.  (Contestants can discuss with the judges before the start of the competition).
  5. ACCOMPANISTS – Contestant may have one accompanist, using any one instrument.  The accompanist must chord and not play melody or harmony. (A house pianist is available).
  6. ACCIDENTS – In case of an accident beyond player’s control (such as broken string, etc), contestant may replay at the discretion of the judges.
  7. DRESS CODE – Contestants must wear appropriate attire on stage.  However, no extra points will be awarded for attire in any class.  Contestants must remain in appropriate attire when receiving class awards and recognition.
  8. ACROBATIC PLAYING – Such activities are only allowed in the Novelty class.
  9. ORDER OF PLAYING – Contestant names are printed in the official program in playing order, determined at the sole discretion of the Contest Committee. Contestants must be available to play in that order.
  10. CONTESTANTS MUST BE ON TIME AND READY TO PLAY WHEN CALLED – All classes commence at 10 am. (It is expected that the Playdowns will be completed by approximately 4:30 pm.  Exact timing is based on the number of contestants).


Finalist and other class winning contestants selected from the Playdowns must be available to compete or perform on at the Finals commencing at 6:30 p.m. in the order indicated on the program.

Finalists include the contestants in: Championship Class; 13 – 18 Class; 10 – 12 Class; and three in the Duet Class.  Winners showcasing during the Finals will include 1st place winners in the 9 and Under Class, 19 – 55, Novelty, Gospel and 56 and Over Class.


  1. ENTRY DEADLINE – Advance registration closes at 6:00 p.m. on Wednesday, August 8, 2018. Registration is permitted after that time, up until the Class commences, with an increased entry fee. All entries must be in the hands of the contest secretary by that time.  No entries later than indicated will be accepted.
  2. TIES – Between finalists or for positions to advance to the finals will be settled by the contestants replaying their set of tunes.
  1. PROOF OF AGE – Must be provided if requested.  Date of birth must be stated on the entry form for all contestants.
  2. JUDGES – Decisions are final.
  3. Registration by a contestant indicates the contestant’s acceptance of the Contest Rules. Failure to abide by the rules may result in disqualification.


Specific Class Rules

9 YEARS AND UNDER – Contestants will play one old time-type tune; either a waltz, jig, reel, breakdown or hornpipe, of their choice, within a 2 minute time limit.

DUET CLASS – Two fiddlers, no age limit. Both names to appear on entry form. The Duet must play a Waltz and one Old Time Tune of their choice, in that order, within a three minute time limit. Contestants must play in harmony, with harmony parts following the melody in Canadian Old Time style.  In addition to standard judging criteria, togetherness of bowing and overall sound will be considered. Prize money will be divided equally between the two fiddlers.

GOSPEL CLASS – Two or more fiddlers, no age limit. All names to appear on entry form. The contestants must play two gospel tunes of contrasting tempo, of their choice, within a three minute time limit. Fiddlers must play in harmony, with harmony parts following the melody in Canadian Old Time style. In addition to standard judging criteria, togetherness of bowing and overall sound will be considered. Prize money will be divided equally among the contestants listed on each entry.

BLUEGRASS CLASS – It must be recognizable to the judges that it is bluegrass.  We expect the contestant to play the fiddle; but can be joined by another instrument.  The time limit is 3 minutes. It will be competed on Friday, with the winner to Showcase Saturday evening.   It is meant for you and the audience to have fun with.

CHAMPIONSHIP CLASS – In the Friday Playdown round, contestants must play a Waltz, Jig, and Reel or Breakdown or Hornpipe, played in that order, within a four minute time limit.  In the Saturday final round, selected finalist contestants will play different tunes from the preliminary round.  The final round set of tunes will consist of a Waltz, Jig, Reel or Breakdown or Hornpipe, and a Canadian composed tune of choice, played in that order, within a five minute and thirty second time limit.

The name and composer of the Canadian composed tune of choice must be indicated on the contestant registration form for Championship class contestants.  The Canadian tune of choice can be in any style.

The Canadian tune of choice is marked separate from the Waltz, Jig and Reel, for the purpose of the separate Canadian tune of choice prize.


Judges will award points on the following basis in the Open, and age group classes:

  1. TIME and TEMPO. Time must be steady. Tempo must be suitable dance style.
  2. TONE.  Quality of sound, clarity of notes and intonation.
  3. STYLE AND TECHNIQUE.Canadian Old Time Style, free and easy, smooth, graceful and polished. Degree of difficulty and ease of performance.

Judging is on a rank order basis by judge, with combined ranks determining final contestant ranking.

Note:   A Class or Classes may be cancelled or combined or the number of Finalists changed at the sole discretion of the Rotary Club of Shelburne.

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