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History

History

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The event was selected several times by Discover America Inc., a national travel organization, as one of the top twenty events for the month of October. In 1976, the United States Bi-Centennial Commission selected the convention as one of the top twenty events of its kind. Articles in regional and national magazines began to appear and the growth accelerated. With each event, the big college gym was increasingly packed with standing room only and it appeared that there were as many people on the grounds outside the gym unable to get inside. Lack of seating was not the only problem with the gym. On warm days, the heat inside, increased by the packed bodies, became unbearable. The only recourse to cool the gym down was to stop the proceedings and turn on the big exhaust fans to clear the air. Due to the structure an acoustic problem existed that could not be remedied. The gate receipts were limited to the gym capacity. In 1978, a decision was made to stage the convention outdoors and to secure the area with a fence. The site selected was the area around Founder's Hall, the oldest building on the campus, with the stage extended from the front porch of the stately and beautiful antebellum building. The seating area would be on a wide expanse of lawn shaded by centuries old trees. The weather for the following straight years was unseasonably cool but the attendance held with perhaps a slower rate of growth. When the weather returned to normal, attendance rose dramatically. At the present time the attendance is approximately triple the crowd size of the early and mid 1970's. A record crowd of 15,000 representing 33 states and two foreign countries showed for the 29th event in 1995.

The TVOTFA was disbanded in 1982 and the sponsorship of the convention passed to the Athens State College Foundation and the Athens-Limestone County Chamber of Commerce. Under the capable and hands-on direction of Ewell Smith, Dean of Financial Affairs, and his dedicated and responsive group, the convention has continued to thrive. Ewell has been actively involved almost from the very first convention in 1967. His fiddlers convention group executes each event year after year with the precision of a well-oiled machine. The arts and crafts portion has grown to a very significant degree but this growth has been controlled to prevent encroachment on the music, which has remained dominant. To avoid a flea market atmosphere, the arts and crafts exhibits are carefully screened to insure their products are in keeping with the theme of traditional old time music.

For the first fifteen Years, Bill Harrison opened the Annual Tennessee Valley Old Time Fiddlers Convention with the thunderous boom of the anvil shoot. The shoot, like old time fiddling, is a sound from America's pioneer past and is made by pairing two heavy blacksmith's anvils with a black powder charge in between and then touching off the charge with a fuse. This results in a cannon-like roar hurling the top anvil high into the air. After a long absence the anvil shoot returns to celebrate the 30th anniversary.

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The Delmore Brothers

Past Champs

2013 Events
Articles

Below are a series of articles that were recently published by the Athens News Courier. They are part of a series of articles remembering five old-time fiddlers important to Limestone County’s fiddling tradition by Jim Holland, guest writer.

August 25, 2011
A History of Fiddling: Discovery, Archaeology and Fiddling

Fiddlers History

August 25, 2011
Discovery, Archaeology and Fiddling: The Chambers Brothers and 'The Lost Connection'— Part 2

Fiddlers History

August 25, 2011
Discovery, Archaeology and Fiddling: Sam McCracken — Gentleman with the stately fiddling — Part 3

Fiddlers History

August 25, 2011
Discovery, Archaeology and Fiddling: Paisley Hagood – When To Start and When To Quit

Fiddlers History

 
 

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