Chatham County's Traditional Music Festival

September 12 - 14, 2024


September 12 – 14, 2024

Yes, friends – it’s time for a contest revival! Band and instrument contests are historically at the heart of every fiddlers convention, but we’ve seen a noticeable decline in participant numbers in recent years – both at Hoppin’ John and at other events around the region. Maybe some folks say that they don’t want to compete against their friends. Or maybe you think that contests are only for amateurs. To both of these points, I would say that it just doesn’t have to be that serious! The contests are about providing entertainment and having fun with your friends. When both novice and professional players compete on the same level, it adds extra enjoyment and entertainment for everyone, especially the audience. You won’t be buying a new car with Hoppin’ John prize money, but you can pay for your travel or take your friends out to dinner with your winnings. You could even donate it back to the Shakori Hills nonprofit. Registration is now open!

As part of this harkening back to our roots, band categories have been re-established! You’ll get a refund after playing, and get an extra discount for registering early. Each instrument will also now have its own time slot.  A little extra has been added to the prize kitty for incentive, and the band contest has been moved to Saturday night only — can’t get here til Friday night because of work? No problem. There are new categories for Song Duets and Instrument Duos on Friday to keep things interesting and give all those accordion, dobro and harmonica players a chance to perform.

We are also delighted to announce the return of the Hoppin’ John Cook-Off!

For those of you who just love the show, don’t worry! All the showcases, workshops and activities that have come to make Hoppin’ John a unique offering in the world of fiddlers conventions will still be happening! We are honored to welcome Jerron Paxton to the Friday night concert stage, plus showcases focusing on gospel (with Alice Vines & Melody Harper and Jake & Sarah Owen!), the music of Charlie Poole and the Field Recorders Collective. Stay tuned throughout the summer for updates.

Registration for all contests opens on July 1st. In the meantime, here are some old videos worth watching:

Rye Mountain Boys, Hoppin’ John 2010

Lightnin’ Wells, Hoppin’ John 2014

and just for fun: Carolina Chocolate Drops, Mt. Airy 2006


Thank you to our WONDERFUL sponsors! We couldn’t do it without these folks:

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