2017 Contest Rules

GENERAL RULES FOR ALL CONTESTS
WINFIELD, KANSAS

September 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 2017

Contests are open to anyone except those who are performing as a billed or paid entertainer or workshop leader at the 2017 National Flat Pick Guitar Championships and those who have been the First Place winner within the past five years — specifically the years 2012 through 2016. However, previous winners may enter and win contests which they have not won within the last five years. For example, the First Place winner of the National Bluegrass Banjo Championship in the last five years may enter and win any or all the other contests.

Only 40 contestants may compete per contest. This will be the first 40 answering when their names are called from the chronological registration lists, one-half hour before the contest begins. Contestants MUST HAVE A VALID / PURCHASED FESTIVAL TICKET for the day of the contest.

Contestants must play instruments acoustically into a microphone. An instrument's electrical capability cannot be used. You may retune your instrument between instrumental numbers using a portable electronic tuner. BE AWARE that time spent retuning your instrument on stage will be included as part of the recommended Maximum Playing time of 5 minutes.

Contestants may have one rhythm instrument for accompaniment. It is WVA policy that billed or paid entertainers or workshop leaders NOT ACCOMPANY CONTESTANTS. Contestants will not be allowed to take two instruments on stage. Selection committee reserves the right to eliminate contestants whose style of playing and selection of material are not in keeping with the flavor of the Festival.

A MEDLEY OF TUNES IS NOT ACCEPTABLE.

Recommended Maximum playing time is five (5) minutes for all contests except Fiddle.

In an effort to judge the contest objectively and equally, the following criteria will be considered by the judges and assigned point value in each area (except for fiddle and flat pick guitar):

40 points 1. ARRANGEMENT - Contestant's version of the tune selected. Is it appropriate to the tune and instrument? Difficulty and originality will be considered. 
40 points 2. EXECUTION, TUNING - Fingering, picking and dynamics will be considered. Is the instrument in tune? 
10 points 3. SHOW VALUE - The music should be played with life and feeling. It should not appear listless nor should it drag.
10 points 4. OVERALL IMPRESSION

Specific rules for each contest follow. Contestants may register for the contests by returning the entry form with the necessary fee or by calling 620-221-3250 and using a credit card. All registered contestants must confirm their registration at the Contest Trailer prior to the time registration closes. WE WILL ACCEPT CONTEST REGISTRATIONS ON GROUNDS UNTIL ONE HOUR BEFORE THE SCHEDULED CONTEST TIME. Order of appearance will be determined by drawing a number one-half hour before the contest begins.

If there are nine (9) or less registered, contestants will play three (3) tunes in the first round, with a recommended maximum playing time of seven (7) minutes. Judges will place winners without the additional tunes of a second round.

Score cards will NOT be given out.

PLEASE NOTE: The judging room only hears the competing instrument and receives no mix or sound coming from accompaniment or rhythm instrument.

>>> Contestants are not allowed to speak on stage. <<<


SPECIFIC CONTEST RULES

INTERNATIONAL AUTOHARP CHAMPIONSHIP -

Thursday, September 14, 2017, 9:00 a.m. Stage IV. Entry Fee is $15.

Contestants will be prepared to play four instrumental numbers. No vocals will be allowed. Two numbers will be played in the first round of competition and the other two in the final round should the contestant be selected as a finalist. Contestants may have one rhythm instrument for accompaniment, but not another autoharp. Tunes may be traditional, bluegrass, folk, classical or old-time country. Special tunings will be allowed (e.g. the diatonic just tuning, etc.); however, the contestant will not be allowed to take 2 instruments on stage. Fingerpicks, flatpicks or bare fingers are all acceptable. Lap-style or Appalachian style playing is acceptable. However, a player is not limited to only these techniques. All brands of chorded zithers will be allowed, including custom-made harps. Any custom-made harp must be within the size of the standard (36-37 string) model acoustic autoharp. Recommended Maximum playing time is five (5) minutes. Contestants must be registered before 8:00 a.m. Thursday, September 14, 2017 at the Contest Registration Trailer and be present at the contest stage at 8:30 a.m. to draw for order of appearance and receive final instructions. Winners will be announced and will receive their awards immediately after the contest on Stage IV.(See general rules.)

INTERNATIONAL FINGER STYLE GUITAR CHAMPIONSHIP - Thursday, September 14, 2017, 3:00 p.m. Stage IV. Entry fee is $15.

* The Walnut Valley Association has accepted forty (40) registrations for the International Finger Style Guitar Championship.  WE ARE CURRENTLY ACCEPTING AN ADDITIONAL THIRTY-FIVE (35) REGISTRATIONS FOR A STAND-BY LIST in case of cancellations or no-shows.  You may register for the Stand-By list by calling the office at (620) 221-3250 and pay registration fees with a credit card, or register by completing the registration form and mail with a check, money order or credit card information.  You may still sign up at the Festival to be added to the end of the Stand-By list at the Contest Registration Trailer which opens Thursday, September 14, 2017 at 7:00 a.m.

Contestants will be prepared to play four instrumental numbers. Two numbers will be played in the first round of competition and the other two in the final round should the contestant be selected as a finalist. CONTESTANT MAY PLAY ANY STYLE OF MUSIC, BUT FLAT PICK AND SLIDE TECHNIQUES ARE NOT ACCEPTABLE. Contestants may use thumb and finger picks. NO FLAT PICK. Standard / traditional acoustic 6-string or standard / traditional acoustic 12-string arch top or flat top guitars with either steel or nylon strings are allowed. Special tunings will be allowed. However, the contestant will NOT be allowed to take two instruments on stage. Recommended Maximum playing time is five (5) minutes.  Standard or traditional style capos may be used.  Capos which allow the alteration of individual strings AND partial capos depressing some, but not all strings will NOT be allowed. CAPOS, IF USED, MUST BE APPLIED ACROSS ALL STRINGS ON THE SAME FRET OF THE INSTRUMENT. Contestants must be registered before 2:00 p.m. Thursday, September 14, 2017 at the Contest Registration Trailer and be present at the contest stage at 2:30 p.m. to draw for order of appearance and receive final instructions. Winners will be announced immediately and will receive their awards after the contest on Stage IV. (See general rules.) The top three winners will be required to play in a Friday night performance on Stage I.

NATIONAL MOUNTAIN DULCIMER CHAMPIONSHIP -Friday, September 15, 2017, 9:00 a.m. Stage IV. Entry Fee is $15.

Contestants will be prepared to play four instrumental numbers. Two numbers will be played in the first round of competition and the other two in the final round should the contestant be selected as a finalist. All 3-string, 4-string or 6-string mountain dulcimers, either hourglass, teardrop, or rectangular shaped are allowed. Contestants may have one rhythm instrument for accompaniment but not another mountain dulcimer. Recommended Maximum playing time is five (5) minutes. Contestants must be registered before 8:00 a.m. Friday, September 15, 2017 at the Contest Registration Trailer and be present at the contest stage at 8:30 a.m. to draw for order of appearance and receive final instructions. Winners will be announced and will receive their awards immediately after the contest on Stage IV. (See general rules.)

NATIONAL MANDOLIN CHAMPIONSHIP - Friday, September 15, 2017, 1:00 p.m. Stage IV. Entry fee is $15.

Contestants will be prepared to play four instrumental numbers. Two numbers will be played in the first round of competition and the other two in the final round should the contestant be selected as a finalist. Recommended Maximum playing time is five (5) minutes. Contestants must be registered before noon Friday, September 15, 2017 at the Contest Registration Trailer and be present at the contest stage at 12:30 p.m. to draw for order of appearance and receive final instructions. Winners will be announced and will receive their awards immediately after the contest on Stage IV. (See general rules.)

WALNUT VALLEY OLD TIME FIDDLE CHAMPIONSHIP - Friday, September 15, 2017, 6:00 p.m. Stage IV. Entry fee is $15. Recommended Maximum playing time is seven (7) minutes.

This contest will be judged on: AUTHENTICITY (20 points), RHYTHM & TIMING (20 points), EXECUTION (20 points), EXPRESSION (20 points), CREATIVITY (20 points). Each contestant will play a hoedown, a waltz, and a tune of his/her choice in that order. A hoedown and a waltz, in that order, will be played in the final round should the contestant be selected as a finalist. No trick or fancy fiddling will be allowed. Contestants will be disqualified for playing Mockingbird, Black Mountain Rag, or Orange Blossom Special. All treble clef instruments in the violin family not classified as a viola, cello or double bass are allowed in this competition. A double bass may be used as a rhythm instrument but is not required. Contestants must be registered before 5:00 p.m. Friday, September 15, 2017 at the Contest Registration Trailer and be present at the contest stage at 5:30 p.m. to draw for order of appearance and receive final instructions. Winners will be announced and will receive their awards immediately after the contest on Stage IV. (See general rules.)

NATIONAL FLAT PICK GUITAR CHAMPIONSHIP - Saturday, September 16, 2017, 9:00 a.m. Stage IV. Entry fee is $15.

Contestants will be prepared to play four instrumental numbers in traditional fiddle tune or bluegrass style. Two numbers will be played in the first round and the other two in the final round should the contestant be selected as a finalist. Recommended Maximum playing time is five (5) minutes. All contestants must play with a FLAT PICK. NO FINGER PICKING WILL BE ALLOWED. NO COMBINATION OF FLAT PICKING AND FINGER PICKING WILL BE ALLOWED. Standard / traditional acoustic 6-string or standard / traditional acoustic 12-string guitars may be played in this competition. The alteration or tuning of the low E (6th) string will be permitted. The low E (6th) string can be changed to any note desired, not limiting the tuning of the 6th string to “Drop D” or a low D note but to any desired pitch. No other string tuning or variance from the standard E (1), B (2), G (3), D (4), A (5) will be permitted. Some slight, overall variance from concert pitch A=440 will be tolerated. (See #2 in the general rules.) Standard or traditional style capos may be used.  Capos which allow the alteration of individual strings AND partial capos depressing some, but not all strings will NOT be allowed. CAPOS, IF USED, MUST BE APPLIED ACROSS ALL STRINGS ON THE SAME FRET OF THE INSTRUMENT. Contestants must be registered before 8:00 a.m. Saturday, September 16, 2017 at the Contest Registration Trailer and be present at the contest stage at 8:30 a.m. to draw for order of appearance and receive final instructions. Winners will be announced and will receive their awards immediately after the contest on Stage IV. (See general rules.) The top 3 winners will be required to play in a Saturday night performance on Stage I.

  • 40 points 1. ARRANGEMENT - Contestant’s version of the tune selected. Is it appropriate to the tune and arrangement? Is the tune selected in keeping with the flavor of the Festival? Is the arrangement original, for the most part, to the contestant, or is it someone else’s known arrangement? 
  • 40 points 2. EXECUTION & ARTICULATION - Are the notes buzzing and muddy, or are they clear and distinct? Tone - Are the notes full or thin sounding? Timing - Is the tempo steady and constant? Dexterity - Are the notes played in difficult positions up and down the fingerboard or is the piece played for the most part in first and/or second position? Tuning - Is the instrument in tune with itself and relatively close to concert pitch of A=440? 
  • 10 points 3. EXPRESSION, DYNAMICS & SHOW VALUE - The music should be played with life and feeling. The performance is not to be based on audience response. 
  • 10 points 4. OVERALL IMPRESSION - Paragraphs 1 through 3 are considered at this point.

NATIONAL HAMMER DULCIMER CHAMPIONSHIP - Saturday, September 16, 2017, 3:30 p.m. Stage IV. Entry fee is $15.

Contestants will be prepared to play four instrumental numbers. Two numbers will be played in the first round of competition and the other two in the final round should the contestant be selected as a finalist. Originality is encouraged. It will be permissible to pluck one tune, but not necessary. Contestants may have one rhythm instrument as accompaniment but not another hammer dulcimer. Recommended Maximum playing time is five (5) minutes. Contestants must be registered before 2:30 p.m. Saturday, September 16, 2017 at the Contest Registration Trailer and be present at the contest stage at 3:00 p.m. to draw for order of appearance and receive final instructions. Winners will receive their awards immediately after the contest on Stage IV. (See general rules.)

NATIONAL BLUEGRASS BANJO CHAMPIONSHIP -

Sunday, September 17, 2017, 10:00 a.m. Stage IV. Entry fee is $15.

Contestants will be prepared to play four instrumental numbers. Two numbers will be played in the first round of competition and the other two will be played in the final round should the contestant be selected as a finalist. Recommended Maximum playing time is five (5) minutes. Contestants must be registered before 9:00 a.m. Sunday, September 17, 2017, at the Contest Registration Trailer and be present at the contest stage at 9:30 a.m. to draw for order of appearance and receive final instructions. Winners will be announced and receive their awards immediately after the contest on Stage IV.