Chatham County's Traditional Music Festival

September 12 - 14, 2024

contest rules & regs


The contestant refund is back!

  • Everyone paying admission will receive a contestant-eligible wristband. Likewise, everyone wishing to compete (excluding kids 15 & under) must purchase this contestant-eligible wristband.
  • Contestants go to the tent in front of the stage immediately after playing for your $10 refund and wristband punch.
  • $10 maximum refund regardless of number of contests entered.
For All Contests:
  • You may register up until 10 minutes after contest start time.
  • Registration will take place at the tent in the stage field beginning at 2 pm on Friday and 10 am on Saturday. You must have purchased a contestant-eligible wristband to enter.
  • All songs must be from the public domain, or be your own original music played in string band style. Absolutely NO copyrighted music.
  • Playing time is limited to four minutes.
  • Judges’ family and/or bandmates are ineligible to compete in the contest being judged by their family member or bandmate.
  • Acoustic, non-electrical instruments only
  • All sales final – no exchanges or refunds. Lost, damaged or mutilated wristbands will not be replaced or reimbursed.
  • By performing, all contestants agree that the festival may record and reproduce performances free of claim by contestants.
  • Judges’ decisions are final.

Note: we are rescinding the restriction on paid musicians entering contests. We ask that you maintain an ethical responsibility here, though. If you are a key showcase player, stay this year out. If you are simply teaching a workshop or playing for a dance, you are very welcome to enter the contests.

Specific to Band Contest:
  • Band contest is now on Saturday night only.
  • Bands must play two songs.
  • Bands will register under band name, listing all individual members
  • All band members must have purchased a wristband
  • Fiddle and banjo players may only play with one band. Other players may play in other band configurations as needed. Individual members may enter as many individual contests as they like.
  • To qualify, a band must consist of at least 3 different stringed instruments. Up to seven members allowed in band.
  • Bands may only enter one category.
  • There are no age restrictions for bands.
Specific to Individual Contests:
  • All contests will have their own time slot – schedule announced this summer.
  • Each individual contestant may have one musical accompaniment including folk song. Backup instrument will be different from contestant instrument, and will not be considered in grading criteria.
  • Instrument genre categories will be judged upon the merit of their playing style; the categories are collapsed for prize disbursements only.
  • Dobros, dulcimer, harmonica and any other instrument players without their own category may participate, with another, in the Instrument Duos category on Friday evening.
  • The children’s categories are for contestants age 15 and under. These competitors receive free admission/contest entry. Children under 15 may enter an adult contest by purchasing an adult wristband. They may ONLY enter either the children’s or adult contests, not both.
Specific to Dance Contests:
  • If Dance is the only contest you are entering, you do not need a contestant wristband. This is to allow for last minute decisions.
  • Adult Dancers will perform after band competition Saturday night.
  • Youth Dancers will perform after youth individual competition on Saturday.
  • No taps in dance.

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

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