"It's pretty casual. We don't dress up, but most of us do wear boots," says returning champion Matt Wyatt. Competing in at least thirty competitions yearly, Wyatt bow-thumps with the best of them.
"I started messing around with the fiddle when I was twelve," he says. "I don't remember learning to read music; it just happened." That's pretty modest for someone who has been the state fiddle champion of Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Mississippi and Alabama. Todd Eder, who took second place last year, doesn't mince words, though: "Matt's damn good," he says.
Wyatt and other contestants will boil them cabbage down, but fiddle fans shouldn't expect to choo-choo-cha-boogie to the "Orange Blossom Special," easily among the most well known fiddle tunes around (second to "The Devil Went Down to Georgia"). "It's banned in most competitions and is generally regarded as an overplayed trick tune," Eder says.
But Wyatt encourages prospective visitors not to fret. "Don't worry," he says. "Somebody'll usually play it after the competition, because you ain't playing the fiddle if you ain't making the people dance."