#lookback: A Violin or a Fiddle

A series where we take a #lookback at the stories and history of our community, brought to you by Mick Pryor, Financial Advisor with Edward Jones.

The difference between a violin and a fiddle is… not likely the question that was on the minds of some 1500 people in the spring of 1975 as they crowded into the “new gym” at the Shoshoni High School. For two days, musicians thrilled the audience, not by playing Tchaikovsky, or Vivaldi, but by inaugurating Wyoming’s annual Old Time Fiddle Contest. After some nudging by “Lazy Harold” Donelson, who began fiddling at age 11, the Shoshoni Chamber of Commerce helped bring Wyoming’s fiddlers into the National Oldtime Fiddlers’ Contest by sponsoring the Wyoming contest. Unsurprisingly “Lazy Harold” won the state championship the first two years.

Shoshoni was the home of the Wyoming Oldtime Fiddle Contest for more than three decades. Contestants competed in a variety of categories, including State Championship, Senior, Adult, Junior, Junior-Junior, Small Fry, Novice, Ladies Fiddle, Twin Fiddle, and No Holds Barred. In 2007, the contest moved to Thermopolis until 2010. The 2011 contest took place in Casper, and between 2012 and 2016, the Wyoming State Fair took over the event. In 2016, the Fiddlers held their final contest at the Wyoming State Fair in Douglas. Earlier this year, the Shoshoni Senior Citizens Center sponsored an event bidding farewell to this annual tradition.

Some longtime participants didn’t just play the fiddle. Leroy Haygood also built fiddles, including the one pictured here. Leroy, a resident of Casper enjoyed walking, sometimes through alleys, and collecting “alley wood” which he used to build things. This alley wood fiddle has a ¾ size neck on a full-size body. As for the difference between a fiddle and a violin? You carry a violin in a case, and a fiddle in a sack.

Next up for the Fremont County Museums

October 20th, 3pm at the Dubois Museum, “Halloween Crafts & Games”

Children’s Exploration Series

October 26, 6:30pm at the Riverton Museum, “Haunted Downtown Walking Tour”

Wind River Visitors Council Adventure Trek Series

October 26 & 27, 6:00-9:00pm at the Pioneer Museum, “Halloween Night at the Museum”

Children’s Exploration Series

The Dubois Museum, the Pioneer Museum in Lander and the Riverton Museum work extremely hard to provide programs, care for the facilities, create exhibits and care for the thousands of artifacts and archival documents in the collections of the museums. In order to consistently accomplish these objectives the museums are more reliant than ever on donations from the private sector. Please make your tax deductible contribution to be used specifically for the benefit of the museum of your choosing by sending a check to Fremont County Museums 450 N 2nd Rm 320 or taking it directly to the museum you choose to support.