"Hardy Pioneers" and Amarillo's Panhandle Fiddle Contests
The Center for Texas Music History
In the period from 1928 to 1931, at least six fiddle contests were held in Amarillo, Texas, most under the auspices of the Tri-State Fair Association. Contemporary newspaper reports offer interesting insights into the workings of the contests and the activities of the contestants, giving us a fascinating glimpse into the lives and fortunes of numerous early Panhandle fiddlers, including noted musicians Eck Robertson, J. T. Wills - father of Western Swing legend Bob Wills, Jess Morris, and others.1 Census statistics indicate just over 15,000 Amarillo residents in 1920, and the town had grown to a city of 43,000 by 1930.2 Amarillo’s older citizens who noticed the changing landscape may have had fond memories of the old days, and the Old Fiddler contests gave them an opportunity to enjoy what was perceived as a fast dying art.
West Texas, Fiddlers, Buddy Holly Center, Hardy Pioneers, Amarillo, Panhandle fiddle contest, Texas musicians