A flock of fast-fingered fiddlers filled the Cumberland Cultural Centre earlier this month and showcased their best jigs, waltzes and reels.
Musicians from across the province competed against one another as part of the 2011 B.C. Old Time Fiddlers Provincial Fiddle Contest, hosted by Brach 17, North Island, of the B.C. Old Time Fiddlers Association.
“It was a fantastically successful weekend. Everyone said how impressed they were with how well it was run and how smooth it went,” said Ed Medford, branch president. “(The competition) fosters and promotes the art of old time fiddle work.”
Medford explained the provincial contest is a sanctioned competition to find the ultimate champion out of the various branches within B.C.
He added the event usually takes place in various communities on the mainland because of travelling costs, but after forming a contest committee about a year ago, Branch 17 decided to host the contest.
“It’s like any fiddle contest, there’s a set of rules, and the participants play to the rules and we see who can do the best,” he noted. “There are various categories … but it was dominated by youth from 16 to 25.”
Medford added young people are getting exposed to fiddle music, and for a while, some schools even offered a strings program.
“A lot of music teachers know about (the competition) and what goes on,” he said.
Sarah Tradewell, the top finisher in the championship category came out of the youth category, noted Medford.
Although the branch is still counting the final numbers, Medford noted many participants came from around the province, not just Vancouver Island.
“The prize list was probably the largest list anywhere in the province because we wanted to encourage people from the mainland to come over, especially given the cost to get here,” he added.
One of Medford’s best moments from the weekend was not the actual competition itself, but the music which happens when fiddlers come together.
“Some of the most amazing moments was when people came together and jammed — it’s amazing what goes on behind the scenes. There’s a lot of camaraderie that goes on.”
Medford said the organization is looking at the possibility of taking the competition entirely online to save costs, but admits, “We’re really fighting a battle of ideas between modernizing things with old time fiddling.”
For more information on Branch 17 and old time fiddling, visit www.branch17fiddlers.shawwebspace.ca.