The Texas State Championship Fiddlers’ Frolics was founded in 1971 and takes place annually in Hallettsville every April. Billed as the largest fiddlers’ contest in the world, it attracts fiddle players from the United States and beyond to vie for prize money and several highly-coveted titles. The event is held at the Hallettsville Knights of Columbus Hall.
Open to only acoustic instruments with an upper limit of four accompanists per fiddler, the contest is divided into five divisions. The categories include a senior division (age sixty-five and older), the Forest H. Craig Freshman division (age fifteen and younger), an out-of-state fiddler division, an “Anything Goes” category where the audience (instead of a panel of judges) decides which player incorporates the most entertaining and acrobatic tricks, and the Texas State Championship division which is strictly open to Texans.
The Fiddlers’ Frolics also sponsors the Texas Fiddlers’ Frolics Hall of Fame that honors at least one fiddler per year. Claude Henson was the first inductee in 1977. Subsequent honorees have included fiddling pioneers, legends, past champions, and others who have contributed significantly to their craft, including Eck Robertson (1983), Louis Franklin (1990), Omega Burden (1999), Betty Solomon (2005), and Bob Wills (2011).
In addition to the fiddling competition (and a contest for their guitar accompanists), the Fiddlers’ Frolics instituted a “Songwriter Serenade” competition in 2007. Sponsors of the Fiddlers’ Frolics include local and regional radio stations, news stations, businesses, as well as corporate sponsors such as Budweiser. The event also features arts and crafts, a barbecue cook-off, and other foods. Additional musical entertainment includes jam sessions, guitar and banjo picking, and a variety of country, bluegrass, and Cajun musicians. The Texas State Championship Fiddlers’ Frolics celebrated its fortieth anniversary in 2011.