On May 25 organizers at the 1890s Day Jamboree Old Time Fiddlers Convention in Ringgold welcomed more than 100 contestants, including fiddlers, guitarists, mandolinists, bands, banjo players, and cloggers from states across the south.
Instrumentalists struck a chord as dancers twirled into the hearts of audiences as they cheered dozens of musicians on to victory to win nearly $7,925 in prize money sponsored by Walter Jackson Chevrolet stage at the historic Catoosa County Courthouse.
“We marked our fourteenth contest this year with some of the closest competition we have seen,” said contest organizer Lewis Taylor. “Our volunteers give tirelessly to create an enjoyable event. Without them, our high-caliber judges, and our sponsors, none of this would be possible.”
Taylor is a champion harmonica player, winning titles in several states and numerous contests. This year the city of Ringgold honored him for his years of volunteer service by declaring May 25 as Lewis Taylor Day in Ringgold.
The event is part of the two-day 1890s Days Jamboree, which features four stages of music and comedy, children’s rides, craft and food booths, now in its fourth decade.
Maddie Denton of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, won the Randall Franks Trophy at the 1890s Days Jamboree.
Denton also won the 22-50 age category for the chance to compete for the trophy.
In the fiddle off, she faced her mother Marcia Denton of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, winner of the 51-and-up category, who won fourth, and brothers, both of Lexington, Kentucky, Benjamin Lin from 16-21 category, who placed second, and David Lin, winner of the 11-15 category, who placed third.
The top prize is named in honor of Appalachian Ambassador of the Fiddle Randall Franks, He cheered the top four competitors on in their bid to win the Randall Franks Trophy and the $500 prize. He presented the winners on the main stage with Taylor and event chairman Ronal Graham.
Once holding the title of Georgia State Bluegrass Champion, the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame Bluegrass Legend and Independent Country Music Hall of Fame inductee is a former member of Bill Monroe’s Blue Grass Boys, Jim and Jesse’s Virginia Boys and numerous other groups who as a guest star often shared his talents for the Grand Ole Opry. Franks co-hosts the Grand Master Fiddler Championship at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville each year. For more information, visit randallfranks.com.
“The 1890s Day Jamboree committee strives to keep the tradition of the fiddle contests a vital part of the American musical fabric,” Franks said. “It gives us the opportunity to encourage musicians of all ages from across the region to grow in their talents, as they learn and compete.”
Main Stage Revolution won the team dance competition, Main Stage Explosion took second place, Sunshine Stompers won third, and Main Stage Time’s Up took fourth, all from Springfield, Tennessee.
In the bluegrass band competition, Slim Chance of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, won first place, New Grass Express of Chattanooga, Tennessee, took second, and Springfield Rage of Springfield, Tennessee, received third.
Rob Pearcy of Smyrna, Tennessee, took first in the mandolin, second in banjo and 51-and-up fiddle, third in guitar competition, and received backup guitarist award. Maddie Denton of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, took second in mandolin and third in guitar.
Cody Gressett of Chunky, Miss., took third in mandolin. Matthew Taylor of Maryville, Tennessee, won first in guitar. Conner McMeans of Athens, Alabama, won the banjo contest while Trevor Holder of Ringgold, Georgia, won third.
Fiddlers took home awards in several categories.
Hailey Bryant of Greenbrier, Tennessee, won the 10-and-under fiddle category. Emma Shelton of Coker, Alabama, placed second, and Ty McMeans of Athens, Alabama, placed third.
David Lin of Lexington, Kentucky, won the 11-15-fiddle category. Macy Shelton of Coker, Alabama, placed second, Devon Waite of Ridgetop, Tennessee, received third.
Benjamin Lin of Lexington, Kentucky, won the 16-21-fiddle category. Matthew Lin of Lexington, Kentucky, placed second and Cara DiGiovanni (left) of Cooperstown, Tennessee, received third and Lexi Johnson (right) of LaVergne, Tennessee, took fourth.
Maddie Denton of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, won the 22-50-fiddle category. Gail Johnson (right) of LaVergne, Tennessee, placed second, and Cheryl Chunn (left) of Greenbrier, Tennessee, placed third. Marcia Denton of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, won the 51 and up fiddle category. Rob Pearcy of Smyrna, Tennessee, won second.
Individual dancers took home awards in several categories.
Treble Chunn of Greenbrier, Tennessee, Hailey Bryant of Greenbrier, Tennessee, and Sydney Borski or Gallatin, Tennessee, won first through third in the 10 and under dance.
Kasey Borski of Gallatin, Tennessee, Gracie Parrish of Pleasantview, Tennessee, and Corynne Meadows of Goodlettsville, Tennessee, took first through third in 11-20 dance.
Bella McCoy of Brush Creek, Tennessee, Lexi Johnson of LaVergne, Tennessee, and Dan Adams of Springfield, Tennessee, won first through third in 21-30 dance.
Cheryl Chunn of Greenbrier, Tennessee, won first, Anthony Harrell of Mt. Juliet placed second, while Sherry Borski of Gallatin, Tennessee, took third in the 31-up dance.