The FLORIDA OLD TIME MUSIC CHAMPIONSHIP has been conducted since 1982. Originally held at the Pioneer Florida Museum, the FLORIDA OLD TIME MUSIC CHAMPIONSHIP was begun to help preserve and promote traditional old time music in Florida. It was started by individuals desiring to encourage participation and the passing on of old time music to future generations. It was the brainchild of master Ernie Williams, "Poppa Doc Ernie." His underlings, Dennis Devine and Jim Stickland (Mr Ethnic), did all the dirty work that Ernie didn't want to do. He basically only wanted to play the banjo and party. Some of the "elders" that inspired these once young men were Ed “Doc” Flemming and “Cousin” Thelma Boltin. “Doc” Flemming lived in Dade City and was a member of the board of directors of the Florida Folk Festival in White Springs. “Cousin” Thelma had family in Dade City and started the Heart of Florida Folk Festival in Dade City. She was also the Director, Mistress of Ceremonies and Master Storyteller at Florida Folk Festival in White Springs.
Old time music is not static, but is constantly evolving. Decisions concerning what is appropriate are ultimately subjective. The evolution of old time music and the folk process in general take place within the boundaries of good taste, that, though difficult to state, are familiar to those knowledgeable of the music. Contestants are urged to exercise their own good taste and intuitive grasp of the spirit of old time music.
The Judges will award points in the following categories; Old Time Authenticity and Suitability
(10 Pts) including choice of tunes; Timing & Rhythm (10 Pts) including danceability where appropriate; and Musicianship (10 Pts), includes expression, interpretation, and intonation.
All contestants will be judged by three of the panel of five judges, except Senior Fiddle, Banjo and Old Time String Band they will be judged by the entire judges panel. The Guest(s) of Honor will be invited to participate. The Ed Flemming Award will be determined by the full judges panel and a representative of the Friends of Florida Folk.
No electric instruments, drums, or recorded music will be permitted in any category, for any reason. Electric pickups will not be permitted. Detailed rules of the FLORIDA OLD TIME MUSIC CHAMPIONSHIP are available here on the website and on the Registration Table.
Judges are selected from master old time musicians from throughout the Southern United States. Finalists will be selected in the Senior Fiddle and Old Time Banjo categories. Winners will be selected from the first round of competition in all other categories unless a second round is requested by the judges.