According to contest director, Ed Carnes, any competition relies heavily on good organization and a reputation of fun and fairness and this was very important when the new Twin Lakes National Fiddler Championship was developed.
Contest Director Ed Carnes grew up in Leitchfield and has been involved in contests for many years as a fiddler and is a Nationally Qualified Fiddle judge. “If you get fair, respected, and qualified judges, fiddlers will come” said Carnes. It is a bit unusual, but not unknown, to get the same judges as a previous year according to Carnes, but he felt that their stature in the fiddling community plus their experience and suggestions on making the event even better than last year was a deciding factor.
“We had 72 fiddlers last year and that tells me that we did a great job in selecting judges. I know each of the judges personally, I know they are competent and fair, and have judged at the Grand Master Fiddler Championship in Nashville and the U.S. National Championship in Idaho.” says Carnes. “We are very lucky to get them all back to help us again this year and we expect even more fiddlers this year”.
Dan Kelly has won many prestigious fiddle contests; was Roy Acuff’s last “Smoky Mountain Boy” fiddle player on the Grand Ole Opry; and has developed a successful career as a sideman, touring with Country stars Pam Tillis, Steve Wariner, Faith Hill, Lonestar, SheDaisy, Alan Jackson, and currently with Clint Black. He has performed on the stages of the Kennedy Center; the Grammy, CMA and ACM Awards shows; the Tonight Show; the David Letterman Show; Good Morning America; and Carnegie Hall.
A native Pennsylvanian, Dan began playing fiddle at age eight, and by the age of twelve he had won the Canadian National Open Fiddle Championship. During his contest career, he went on to win the state championships of Pennsylvania, Indiana, Ohio, Maryland, Kentucky, Tennessee, and West Virginia, as well as the Mid-America Championship twice. In 1983, at the age of seventeen, Dan won the most famous fiddle title in the nation, the Grand Master Fiddler Championship.
Dan’s favorite career highlight, aside from winning the Grand Master Fiddler Championship and being a member of Roy Acuff’s Smoky Mountain Boys, was playing Carnegie Hall with Alan Jackson and touring extensively with Clint Black. When Dan is not touring, he divides his musical time between performing with the Tennessee Mafia Jug Band; doing session work around Nashville; maintaining a private teaching schedule; and teaching a violin class at a local private school.
Bobby Taylor is a fourth generation West Virginia fiddler who has played the fiddle for over 40 years, starting at the age of 13. Bobby has also studied countless American fiddle styles and conducts workshops showcasing his special blend of various styles. He retired from playing contests in 1977 to start coordinating contests for the West Virginia Division of Culture and History. Among his wins is the 1977 West Virginia State Open Fiddle Championship in Elkins, WV.
Bobby has been the coordinator of West Virginia’s Vandalia Gathering musicians’ contests at the State Capitol in Charleston, WV, since 1979. He was the coordinator of the Appalachian Open Championships from 1984-1987, a contest that drew many great fiddlers, including some of the Grand Master fiddlers. He is currently the coordinator of the Appalachian String Band Music Festival in Clifftop, WV, an old-time music festival started in 1990. He continues to judge fiddle contests extensively throughout the country. He is also a consultant for contest promoters in the Eastern United States and beyond regarding rules and guidelines for musical competitions. He was a judge at the 2008 National Old-time Fiddlers’ Contest and Festival at Weiser, Idaho. Bobby is a former judge here at the Grand Master Fiddler Championship.
Personal musical performances have included many major festivals for more than 40 years throughout West Virginia and the Eastern United States. Bobby played in Germany in 1979 as a part of the Friendship Force, at the Florida House and the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., and at the Chicago Folk Festival. In November 2005, he played at the Bluegrass and Old-time Music Festival in Harrietville, Australia and was an invited performer at the National Folk Festival in Canberra, Australia.
Kerry Varble has been playing the fiddle for more than 25 years and was the Ohio State fiddle champion in 2008 and 2016. In addition to top finishes in contests from Ohio to Texas, she is a three time Indiana State Gambler’s Draw champion and two-time Grand Master Fiddler finalist.
Kerry holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Violin and a Master of Arts degree in Education. She currently teaches English and creative writing at West Branch High School in Beloit, Ohio. Her innovative approach to integrating music and language arts has been reported in local newspapers, as well as featured on the Youngstown NBC television affiliate, WFMJ.
In addition to playing the fiddle, Kerry is an avid equestrian specializing in retraining thoroughbred ex-racehorses for the sport of eventing. In October 2017 she will be competing one of her young horses at the Retired Racehorse Project Thoroughbred Makeover at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington.
Upcoming Freedom/Fiddling Festival Events
Friday, July 7
Twin Lakes Fiddle Festival Queen Pageant registration deadline at 2:30, $30, at Centre on Main. Pre-registration is encouraged.
Queen interviews begin at 3:00 p.m.
Pageant begins at 6:00 p.m.
call-Joyce Mudd (270) 589-0914, Brad Mudd (270) 589-7993;
Friday, July 14
Vendors at the courthouse.
The Rod Run & Cruise-In (Antique car/truck participants)-courthose square at 5:30 p.m.
Historical Walking Tour-Jack Thomas House at 6:00 p.m.
Entertainment featuring the Tennessee Mafia Jug Band, on the East side of the courthouse square, at 7:30 p.m.
Fireworks at dusk, visible from the courthouse.
Saturday, July 15
Vendors at the courthouse.
Pancake Breakfast- 6:00 a.m.-10:00 a.m., old fire station.
4H-5k Freedom Run-Registration at 7:45 at Ronald Hudson Fire Department.
Twin Lakes National Fiddler’s Championship-Courthouse Square, at 9 a.m.
Antique Car/Truck/Rat Rod & Bike Show- registration at 9:00 a.m. with $20 entry fee, Show at 10:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m.
Historical Jack Thomas House open.
Free admission and free rides for children from 2:00p.m. to dusk.
For more information: call-(270) 259-5587 or visit www.VisitLeitchfield.com.
Reach Amy Lindsey at (270) 259-9622 ext. 2016