Kansas State Fiddling and Picking Championships
Rules and Regulations
A pdf version of the rules is available for download.
Note: Winners will be invited to perform in the winner’s showcase on the main stage at the end of the day.
Each contest is open to anyone except members of acts scheduled to perform and the first place winners of that contest from last year. However, those winners may enter and win any other contests in which they did not take first place last year.
Contestants must play only acoustical instruments. No electrical instruments will be allowed. Contestants may have one rhythm instrument for accompaniment. A medley of tunes is not acceptable. Contestants may not speak on stage.
In an effort to judge the contestants objectively and equally, the following criteria will be considered by the judges:
Rhythm and Timing (25 points)
The judges will look for even, consistent rhythm.
Rushing, dragging, or unevenness in performance will result in lost points.
Execution (25 points)
The judges will look for tone quality, dynamics, pitch, and general command of the instrument. Bad tone and muffled notes will result in lost points.
Creativity (25 points)
The judges will look for variations, improvisations, and “good licks”. Repetitious performance will result in lost points.
Expression (25 points)
The judges will look for the feeling that the contestant puts into the performance. Flat, mechanical, unfeeling performance will result in lost points.
Contest registration will be accepted until 20 minutes before the scheduled contest time (forms also available on our website). Order of appearance will be determined randomly shortly before the contest begins. Contestants are responsible for checking with the stage manager for their position in the contest. Second and third place prizes are not given if there are too few entries. Score cards will not be given out.
Download the Contestant Registration form.
Download Ensemble Folk Registration form.
Adults: $10 per individual contestant.
Kids: $5 per individual contestant.
Ensemble Folk Singing: $10 for each group.
Please note: an individual may enter the Miscellaneous Acoustic Instruments contest only once per year; in other words, the contestant may not enter multiple times with different instruments.
1st place: $150 and a trophy. (Always awarded.)
2nd place: $100. (Awarded if contest has more than 4 entries.)
3rd place: $50. (Awarded if contest has more than 8 entries.)
All youth entries receive a certificate of participation.
Specific rules for each contest
(also see general rules)
(Note: stage assignments subject to change)
State Banjo Championship
South stage. Contestants will play two instrumental numbers, on a five string banjo, in any style
State Ensemble Folk Singing Championship
North stage. Ensembles must consist of two to five voices. Ensembles will sing in any traditional folk singing style. Contestants will have a six minute time limit and will be cut off after six minutes. There is no limit to the number of songs which may be performed within the six minute time limit. Ensembles may have a total of one rhythm instrument for accompaniment. (Note: this is not one instrument per singer.) Instrumentalist need not be a singer. An instrumentalist, who does not sing, may accompany more than one ensemble. Singers may be in only one ensemble.
State Fiddle Championship
North Stage. Open to contestants of any age. Each contestant will play a hoedown, a waltz and a tune of his/her choice, in that order. (In the event that 20 contestants register for the contest, the waltz will be dropped from the competition. Each contestant will play two tunes, a hoedown and tune of choice.)
Youth Fiddle Championship
North Stage. This is a separate contest for youth, 16 years and under, who do not wish to compete in the open competition. Each contestant will play a hoedown, a waltz and a tune of his/her choice, in that order. (In the event that 20 contestants register for the contest, the waltz will be dropped from the competition. Each contestant will play two tunes, a hoedown and tune of choice.)
State Finger-Style Guitar Championship
South stage.Contestants will play two instrumental numbers in any traditional style. Alternative tunings are allowed
State Flat-Pick Guitar Championship
South Stage. Flat-pick guitar is defined as playing fiddle tunes on a guitar using a flat-pick. Contestants will play two instrumental numbers in any traditional style.
State Mandolin Championship
South Stage. Contestants will play two instrumental numbers in any traditional style.
State Miscellaneous Acoustic Instruments Championship
North stage. Two numbers, on the same instrument, will be played in the contest. Selections should be in a style traditional for the instrument. Contestants may have one rhythm instrument for accompaniment. An individual may enter the Miscellaneous Acoustic Instruments Contest only once per year; a contestant may not enter multiple times in the same year, playing a different instrument each time.
No distinction is made among contestants in regular judging on the basis of age; individuals, age 16 or younger, have the same eligibility requirements as all other contestants in the Championship categories. In addition, individuals, age 16 or younger are judged for the Youth Award. A special youth judge watches all of the youth contestants as they compete. The contestant in this age group, who did not win the Youth Award last year, and receives the highest score in an instrumental contest, in this separate round of judging, will receive the Youth Award. Scores in the Ensemble Folk Singing and Youth Fiddle Contest do not count toward the Youth Award.
Clarifications based on questions from contestants
- In all contests, including Ensemble Folk Singing, only one rhythm instrument in total is allowed for accompaniment.
- The back-up player may change instruments between each selection played by the contestant.
- The back-up player in the finger-style and flatpicking contests may play a guitar. Back-up players in the mandolin, fiddle and banjo contests may not play the same instrument as the contestant. For example, the accompanist in the fiddle contest may not play another fiddle.
Notable rule change from last year: Alternative tunings may now be used in the fiddle contests.
Please contact us if you have any questions.
Download the pdf form, complete and return to the registration table AT LEAST 20 minutes before the contest you are entering begins.
Contestant Registration form
Enter your ZIP code in the text box located below to find directions on how to get to the Kansas State Fiddling and Picking Championships in Lawrence, Kansas.
- How many rhythm instruments can I have accompany me?
In all contests, including Ensemble Folk Singing, only one rhythm instrument in total is allowed for accompaniment.
- How many instruments can I play in one contest?
Contestants are allowed to take on stage and play only one instrument. However, the back-up player may change instruments between each selection played by the contestant.