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  13th Annual North Cascade Fiddlers Contest

 Fiddle contestant Andy Emert
Hot weather last weekend provided a shot of summer and a welcome mat for the 13th Annual North Cascade Fiddlers Contest. The family-oriented, outdoor contest, organized by Methow Valley resident Brad Pinkerton, attracted a healthy crowd. Most of the audience came from outside the valley to attend the daylong celebration of fiddle music on the lush lawns of Spring Creek Ranch in Winthrop.

For anyone who thinks of the violin as an instrument to be played in an orchestra before a stiff-backed, yawn-suppressing, hushed audience then the ultra-relaxed atmosphere at the North Cascade Fiddlers Contest offered a stark antidote. The players of small, four-stringed, curvaceous wooden boxes demonstrated the violin’s versatility.

Contestants of all ages and skill levels delighted the crowd with a variety of old-time, country, folksy, boisterous and dreamy music-making from the decorated flatbed of a truck trailer.

Not only did players work themselves into perspiration with their fast fingers and adroit bowing, but the audience got its exercise as well. Every performance elicited some sort of body movement from the listeners, including subtle and more gregarious bouts of head nodding, hand clapping, knee slapping and foot stomping.

Insect judges Steve Bondi and Kurt Oakley examine an entry. 
The draping branches of a large weeping willow behind the stage swayed like green curtains, keeping time with the tunes.

Justin Sherfey of Spokane (who was born during the national fiddle contest at Weiser, Idaho 13 years ago) won the contest’s championship division. Brian Maney of Spokane Valley Washington won the open division, Zoe Cox of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho won the pee-wee division, Gary Lee More of Shoreline, Washington won the senior division, and Chloe Davidson of Kelowna, B.C. won the junior division.

The ever-popular Giant Insect Contest provided the midday break. Clutching makeshift cages of Tupperware, glass jars, plastic bottles, latte cups and the like, 50 or so toddlers to pre-teens waited with remarkable patience for their turn at wowing the judges. Spiders, crickets, beetles, and bumblebees were some of the qualifying arthropods, arachnids and mollusca presented by the young collectors for consideration.

"There ain’t going to be a grasshopper left alive within 20 ft. of here," remarked organizer Brad Pinkerton about the dominance of the Orthoptera caelifera in this year’s contest. Extra points went to bugs that A) were alive, B) had all their limbs C) came from the Pacific NW or D) made a scary noise or bit the judge.

Ayla Belsby’s feisty praying mantis
won the Giant Insect Contest.

The winning prize went to local Ayla Belsby, whose feisty praying mantis scored highest in this very scientific contest.

1st  Zoe Cox  Coeur d'Alene Idaho
2nd  Justice Owens Omak
3rd  Molly Long Portland
4th  Marena Stewart Newman Lake Wa
5th  Dani Jo Meeks Post Falls Id  

1st  Gary Lee Moore Shoreline WA
2nd   Paul Dickerson Spokane
3rd  Walt Werme Camano Island WA
4th  Debbie Dickerson Spokane
5th  Dan Everts Rathdrum ID  

1st  Chloe Davidson Kelowna BC
2nd  Avery Shulerbarger Valley Ford WA
3rd  Jonathan Carter Auburn
4th  Jack Bardi Tacoma
5th  Skyler Larson Pasco  

1st  Brian Maney Spokane Valley
2nd  Dan Stewart Newman Lake WA
3rd  Anna Vowels Newman Lake WA
4th  Kimberly Meeks Post Falls Id
5th  Tim Carter Auburn Wa  

1st  Justin Sherfey Spokane, WA
2nd  Stephen Burwell Maple Valley WA
3rd  Andy Emert Portland
4th  Star McMullen Corvallis Or
5th  Kyle Davidson Kelowna BC