Fiddlers Convention draws talent

Published 11:00 am Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Tyler Lessard, at age 13, shows off one of his first musical awards.

Like many 19-year-olds, Tyler Lessard, a 2011 graduate of J.U. Blacksher, is getting ready to attend college this fall. Along with the college preparations, Lessard is also gearing up to compete in the Rotary Club’s 33rd Annual South Alabama Old Time Fiddlers Convention, which will be held this Saturday at Escambia County High School. Lessard, who is a veteran of the event, said he looks forward to seeing the other competitors and playing instruments backstage while waiting for his turn to compete.

“Everybody in this competition hangs out backstage, and we jam,” Lessard said. “That’s always fun.”

This will be the fourth Fiddlers Convention Lessard has participated in. He has been playing guitar since he was six and will compete in the guitar and mandolin divisions this weekend. Although Lessard has never walked away with an award from the local Fiddlers Convention, he has fared well in other competitions. In 2006, Lessard won second place in the junior division at Florida’s regional event. That same year he won first place for flat pick guitar in the junior division at the state competition. The next year, Lessard moved up to the senior division and was first runner-up for both guitar and mandolin.

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In Lessard’s travels with guitar competitions, he has met people who are well-known in the bluegrass music community.

“I met and played for Keith Anderson,” Lessard said. “The guitar I compete with is signed by Terry Holmes and Mountain Heart.”

Even though Lessard’s roots are in bluegrass, he currently focuses on playing contemporary Christian music and said he is anxious to hit the stage Saturday in Atmore.

The Fiddlers Convention will get underway at 2 p.m. The competition categories will be vocal band, string band, guitar, mandolin, banjo, dobro and fiddle. Prize money will be awarded in each category. First place winners in the vocal and string band categories will receive $200 while second will get $100 and third $50. In the guitar, mandolin, banjo and dobro competitions, first place winners will get $100 while second place will get $75 and third place will get $50. In the fiddle category, first place will get $1,000 followed by second place winners getting $200 and third place getting $100. All proceeds from the convention are used to support the Rotary Academic All-Star Program.

Registration for the event will be held from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. The competition will be held inside the auditorium of Escambia County High School. The school is located at 1215 South Presley Street in Atmore. Tickets are $9 per adult and children under 12 will be admitted free.

For more information about the competition, contact Castleberry at 251-368-2106.