Contests | Bowing Down Home

From the mid 1920s through the mid-1970s, fiddling contests on the district, town, and provincial levels were commonplace on PEI. Although these contests served communities and churches well as a convenient method for fund-raising, all too often they had a negative impact on fiddlers’ lives. When fiddlers formed the PEI Fiddlers’ Society in 1975, they acted almost immediately to remove contests from the Island scene.

Many fidders felt that the judging at contests was often biased, haphazard, and unpredictable. Worse, under-handed tactics among competitors – such as tampering with instruments and equipment, plying judges with alcohol, or slipping multiple drinks to known alcoholics – were widespread.

As noted by Fr. Charles Cheverie, such conditions often created resentments and hard feelings among players. When the Fiddlers' Society was formed, as Fr. Faber MacDonald tells us, they passed a bylaw that barred members from ever again competing against each other at fiddle contests.

The only regularly scheduled contest on the Island to survive the 1970s was the PEI Fiddling and Step Dancing Competition in Tyne Valley, which persisted until 2005.

Here are some stories on the subject of PEI fiddle contests from Jackie Biggar, Tony Smith, and Teresa MacPhee Wilson.

Click for a description of the Island’s first major fiddle contest, known to posterity as The Great Contest of 1926.

See also: Early Revival