Fiddling came to Weiser in 1863 when the Logans established a way station here and covered wagon emigrants stopped for rest and recreation. Newspaper files report fiddling contests here from 1914 to WWI. The resurrection of fiddling in Weiser was due to efforts led by Blaine Stubblefield, Chamber of Commerce Secretary from 1948 until his death in December, 1960.
Blaine was raised on fiddling in Oregon’s Wallowa Valley above Hells Canyon. He had spent several years researching fiddle music for the Library of Congress. His interest in the music led him to ask the Chamber Directors to allocate $175 for a fiddle contest. Nothing happened until January, 1953, when the idea was proposed to hold the contest during intermissions of the Fifth Annual Weiser Square Dance Festival. Prize money was underwritten by two individuals and the first official fiddling event came to life on April 18, 1953. It was billed as the Northwest Mountain Fiddlers’ Contest and was a huge success. The name was changed to the Northwest Oldtime Fiddling Championships in 1956 when a regional division was added for out-of- area fiddlers.
The present National Oldtime Fiddlers’ Contest was inaugurated in 1963 in conjunction with Idaho’s Territorial Centennial observances. Through all these years of fiddling in Weiser, the town of 5,200 people pulls hundreds of volunteers together each year in support of their nationally recognized event. This week of intense competition and endless jamming brings together young and old for the purpose of perpetuating fiddling around the world. The National Oldtime Fiddlers’ Contest now certifies fiddling contests in 29 states in order to facilitate interest and maintain the integrity of fiddling contests. Almost 350 contestants compete in 9 divisions each year. The week long competition also includes musical entertainment nightly from groups from around the U.S.
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