The stirring of strings on Saturday will conjure up memories of Fiddler's Days past, but there are also some new touches for the 88th annual reunion.
“Our main thing is the contest on Saturday,” said Mary Ensign, who's been involved with the fiddler's contest for about 48 years, said.
Saturday events start at 9 a.m. The competiton kicks off at 10 a.m., with Jeff Guernsey, Aarun Carter and Mackenzie Johnston the main judges. There is no charge to enter.
Seniors 60 years old and over compete first, followed by kids 9 and under, juniors 10 to 12, juniors 13 to 17 and adults 18 to 59. The last to play will be the open division, which is expected to draw the top fiddlers. When the breakdowns and waltzes are done, winners for each category will be announced.
First place in the open division pays $600. The senior, adult and junior divisions get $225 and the small fry winner, under nine-years-old, wins $60. In all, there's more than $5,000 to win at the event.
The fiddler's contest began in 1932 and found its permanent home on the Henderson County Courthouse Square in 1834. Fifty years ago, in 1969, Tommy Allsup, a 76 year old barber from Justine won $100 in the senior division.
The 2018 winners were Ridge Roberts in the open division, Jesse Mears in the senior division, Ranelle Dietrich in the small fry, Linda Masters in the junior, Leah Sawyer in the junior and Elyza Whaley in the adult.
The Friday Night Kickoff Show at The Texan features the return of the Western Flyers, Redd Volkaert, Floyd Domino, Jeff Guernsey and Matthew Mefford. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., and the show starts at 7 p.m. The traditional street dance with Choice Country Band is 7 to 10 p.m. on the freshly painted bandstand.
Domino was a member of Asleep at the Wheel and piano player on five of George Strait's albums. Volkaert played guitar for Merle Haggard and was the 2009 Grammy award winner for the Best Country Instrumental Performance.
“That's some pretty good country music credentials,” Ensign said.
The Western Flyers return with western swing and a little in the Benny Goodman style.
“The carnival will start running on Thursday evening,.” Ensign said.
It opens again at 5 p,m, on Friday and noon on Saturday.
The carnival has been a popular part of the Fiddler's cavalcade for more 40 years. When work on the Texan Theater prevented it from setting up two years ago, organizers learned just how popular the rides are. They returned last year for another successful run.