Updates to Contests:

  • There will be only Youth and Adult contests.  Youth are 16 years of age and younger.  All other contestants will be considered Adults.
  • We have added a new contest: Youth String Band Contest
  • We have updated our Cash prize winnings.  Please note the following section for those changes.
  • You can now download contest registration forms and contest rules from this website! Click the following link to access the downloads page.

Download Contests Registration Forms and Contest Rules

Contest Prizes:

Youth Banjo, Youth Fiddle, Youth Dance
1st – $50
2nd – $35
3rd – $25

Adult Dulcimer, Adult Dance, Singing
1st – $100
2nd – $75
3rd – $50

Adult Banjo, Adult Fiddle
1st – $250
2nd – $150
3rd – $75

Youth String Band
1st – $100
2nd – $65
3rd – $35

Adult String Band
1st – $500
2nd – $300
3rd – $150

General Contest Rules:

  • Contest registration will begin at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday morning for all contests.
  • Contest(s) entry is free with paid admission to the festival. Please have your entry wristband with you when you register.
  • The discussions of the judges and the scoring sheets will not be shared with contestants or the audience.
  • Entering any contest grants consent for the festival to record your performance. The Morehead Old Time Music Festival retains exclusive rights to reproduce any music played during the contests.
  • Contestants should take note that all contest performances will be scored higher if old time tunes are played in a traditional style that is consistent with the tunes and style of the region.
  • Registration for a contest will continue until the contest begins. Once a contest begins, registration for that particular contest will close.

Rules/Judging Criteria:

  • All contests will be judged on a 100 point scale, with four 25 point categories.
  • For the fiddle and banjo contests, contestants will play two tunes, no longer than four minutes each, no medleys. A contestant may play alone or with one accompanist. Only acoustic instruments are permitted. If a contestant breaks a string, he/she may pause to replace the string and continue with the performance, or forfeit the contest.
  • Dulcimer contestants will play one tune, no longer than four minutes. They may play alone or with one accompanist playing an acoustic instrument.
  • Fiddle/Banjo/Dulcimer will be judged in the four categories of rhythm, intonation, technique, and tune selection (tunes that reflect the tradition of the region).
  • Singers will sing one song, no longer than four minutes. They may have one accompanist and/or may accompany their own performance with an acoustic instrument.
  • Singing will be judged in the four categories of feeling, intonation, vocal technique, and song selection (songs that reflect the traditions of the region).
  • Bands will play two tunes/songs, no longer than four minutes each, with no medleys. There will be a play-off between the top three bands later in the evening. All bands must have a fiddler. Bands should consist of instruments typical of traditional music of the region. Lyrics should be appropriate for a family audience.
  • Bands will be judged in the four categories of timing, tuning, dynamics, and overall performance.
  • Dancers will dance to one tune played two times through. They will be scored on a 100 point scale in the four categories of technique, rhythm, style/creativity, and overall performance. No taps will be permitted on shoes. Dancers will be expected to dance traditional clogging, flat-foot, and/or buck dance styles consistent with the tradition of the region.