What’s new at the 2015 Old Time Fiddle Championships

July 9, 2015   ·   0 Comments

The Canadian Open Old Time Fiddle Championship, or Shelburne Fiddle Contest as it is commonly known, celebrates its 65th year in 2015.
“The fiddle contest started out as a seed in the mind of Rotary Club members who were looking for a fundraiser to support their charitable works in the local community and beyond,” said Caroline Mach, event co-organizer. “The main debate seemed to be around the fact that at that time in Dufferin County everybody could hear the fiddle played for free at home, so why would they pay to hear someone play at the arena? Despite these doubts, the first contest went ahead and was a resounding success.”
“The essential elements of the contest have remained unchanged since the first fiddler stepped onto the stage in 1951,” added Mach. “The playdowns still happen on Friday, although they now start in the afternoon so that they are finished before the sun comes up on Saturday morning. The finalists play Saturday night, interspersed with entertainment. This format came about as a result of the fact that the CBC broadcast the Saturday night finals live and needed to fill out the half hour broadcast – there were only eight finalists playing on Saturday night that first year. The CBC had a long relationship with the fiddle contest, one that came to an end a few years ago, meaning that the contest is no longer broadcast on the radio, and the Rotary Club is now responsible for organizing the Saturday night entertainment.”
Although Friday and Saturday night are still dedicated to the contest itself, the events surrounding this core have expanded greatly over the years. The Rotary Club now presents a Thursday night concert, and a Wednesday night barn dance and jamboree. There are jam sessions, a fiddle parade, open air market, non-denominational church service, and pork barbecue.
“It seems like if you live in Shelburne, you’re either attending the fiddle contest, or working at one of the related events,” said Mach.
The 65th Canadian Old Time Fiddle Championship in Shelburne starts Wednesday, August 5th, and runs until Sunday, August 9th.
The barn dance and jamboree are back on Wednesday evening – a feature of the event that was new in 2014.
Tickets are available online (, or in person at Holmes Appliances & Music Shop, in downtown Shelburne or by phone at 519 925-8620. Tickets may also be available at the door for the contest events, if not sold out!
The store owners, Greg and Heather Holmes, have been volunteers for many years.
“We do what we can, and help where we can be of assistance,” said Heather Holmes. “With being a retail store owner in downtown Shelburne, we also have to look after our own store, but we have sold tickets, helped with music in the downtown and in the park, food preparation for church or fair board barbecue, staking the park, etc. We do not belong to any service organization, but will help them all whenever asked. Greg, and our daughters have even participated as contestants in the Fiddle Contest!”
Other Shelburne businesses also support the Fiddle Championships by hosting activities during the 5-day event such as a street market, sidewalk sales, donations of prizes/money.
And, of course, fiddles are sold all year long.
“As a ‘Music Store’ we sell ‘fiddles’, and every accessory that goes along with it,” said Holmes. “It’s interesting to see someone come and buy at fiddle in Shelburne because this is the home of the Canadian Open Old Time Fiddle Championship!”
Shelburne Rotary Club uses proceeds from the event to support several local non-for-profit organizations, including: Headwaters Health Care Centre, Shelburne Arena renovations, Shelburne Library renovations, BMX Park, Scouts, Girl Guides, minor sports, and Meals on Wheels.
“We as community members should remember to support the Rotary Club,” said Holmes. “This also is the same for all the other service clubs in Shelburne who support the many activities, events and clubs that depend on financial aid. If you can support an event, in our own community it comes back to assist with something you may be active in. These clubs are all volunteers, so if you would like to assist or join a club, do not hesitate to ask. So when ‘Fiddle Weekend’ comes around, don’t leave town – instead volunteer, or attend the events!”
65th Annual Canadian Old Time Fiddle Championship events:
• Wednesday 5 August – 7 p.m. Old Time Family style Barn Dance at the arena.
• Thursday 6 August – 7:30 p.m. The Beckett Family in concert
• Friday afternoon (1 p.m.) and evening (7 p.m.) – Fiddle Contest
• Saturday afternoon – fiddle parade 3:15 p.m. Kelli Trottier Fiddle and Stepdance Show at the Arena
• Saturday – many events in town. Contest 6 p.m. with entertainment by Kelli Trottier
• Saturday – traffic – free bus service
• Sunday 9 August – 10 a.m. Non-denomination church service. Special guest ‘The Torchmen’
“The Fiddle Championships are important to the community because it is a major fundraiser for many of the service clubs in town that enables them to support numerous things in the community and beyond,” concluded Holmes. “Come out from August 5th to 9th and hear the best fiddle music Canada has to offer and support local service clubs. Find out why Shelburne is known as ‘Fiddleville’.”

By Wendy Gabrek



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