Mountain Dulcimer Contest Rules

4th Louisiana State Mountain Dulcimer Championship Contest

All amateur mountain dulcimer players are invited to participate in our Fourth Annual Louisiana State Mountain Dulcimer Championship. Join the competition and enter our Mountain Dulcimer Contest as we see who can claim the rights to be named best dulcimer player in Louisiana. Here are our rules and procedures.


Past winners are:

2006 – Aaron Thornton (shown in photo),
2007 – Jessica Comeau
2016 – Jan Carroll (shown below)

Competition is Thursday at 3:15 pm.  March 8, 2018. Winner performs at 7:00 p.m.

Place is the stage at the West Baton Rouge Community Center, Port Allen, Louisiana

Our contest sponsor this year is Lagniappe Society member, Arlene Kessler.

Who may compete?

  1. Our contest is open to any aged player, but players must be amateurs. Paid festival instructors are NOT eligible. Previous winners of our Louisiana State Championship are not eligible. Professional musicians are not eligible.
  2. The contest is limited to the first 12 individuals who apply. Registration is on a first come basis and the competition will be closed when 12 individuals enter and pay.
  3. Contestants are encouraged to register by February 17, 2018 and pay the $15.00 entrance fee.
  4. Contestants must be registered for the fête as either a one-day or weekend player and pay the fête registration fee to the Lagniappe Dulcimer Fête.
  5. The winning contestant must be available to perform at Thursday night’s concert and play 2 songs not to exceed 10 minutes.

Is this contest sanctioned by Walnut Valley Association in Kansas which conducts the national mountain dulcimer championships?

The scoring system is the same and competition is conducted in the same manner as the Walnut Valley Association, but we are not sanctioned by this association. There is no automatic admission to Walnut Valley Association based on this competition.

Where is the competition held?

The competition is held on the first day, Thursday, March 8, 2018, of the Lagniappe Dulcimer Fête at 3:15 pm. It is held on the main stage of the festival in the West Baton Rouge Community Center in Port Allen, Louisiana. This stage is in the auditorium where vendors and registration desk are located. The address is 749 North Jefferson Avenue, Port Allen, Louisiana. 70769.

What are the Procedures?

  1. Contestants must prepare 4 songs to play: 2 songs for the preliminary round and 2 songs in the event a run-off/finalist round is needed. A run-off round will be played ONLY if there are 6 or more contestants or if there are 5 or less contestants with a tie for first place. (See Ties Section.)
  2. Each two-song set must not exceed 5 minutes.
  3. The preliminary competition round will begin promptly at 3:15 pm on Thursday, March 8, 2018, at the West Baton Community Center. Contestants should arrive by 3.05 pm and sign in. At 3:10 pm a random drawing for performance placement order will be conducted.
  4. If there are 6 or more contestants, or if there is a first place tie and less than 6 contestants, immediately at the end of the preliminary competition the top 3 scoring contestants will be announced. If there is a tie for 3rd place, the top four contestants will compete. These contestants will play in the run-off/finalist round which will begin promptly after the end of the first competition on the same stage. Again contestants will be assigned the order based on a random drawing for playing placement order for the finalist competition.
  5. The winner will be announced immediately after scoring of the final round.
  6. The winner will play two songs not to exceed a 10 minute set during the concert on Thursday night which begins at 7:00 p.m.

What if there is a tie?

  1. In the event of a tie for third place in the preliminary competition, the first four performers will enter the final competition.
  2. In the event of a tie(s) in the final round, the scores from the first round will be the tie breaker(s). The scores of the head judge will be the final tie breaker if needed.

Other procedures

  1. During the competitions, each contestant will be called to the stage based on the determined number order. Once on stage the contestant must not speak into the mike. The dulcimer will be amplified to an undisclosed location. This amplified song is what judges will hear. Judges will not see the contestants. Talking into the microphone will result in disqualification.
  2. Each contestant will play two songs not to exceed 5 minutes. A signal will be given with 30 seconds remaining. The mike and amplification will be turned off at 5 minutes.
  3. Contestants may use a guitar or other instrument back-up for rhythm assistance. However, this instrument will not be amplified. Judges will not hear the back-up instrument.
  4. The songs played by contestants should be their own arrangements. Use of another player’s arrangement does not show originality and is strongly discouraged.
  5. The competition is played on the main stage in the festival before a live audience. Contestants should be prepared for the fact that other activities such as registration and vendor booth sales will be occurring in the same auditorium during the competition.
  6. During the festival, contestants must not practice their songs at the community center or around other dulcimer players. Judges are anonymous, and this may bias other contestants or judges. If a contestant desires a practice location, he/she should contact the Festival Planning Committee, located at the Registration Table, who will direct the contestant to an appropriate practice location.

How is the competition judged?

  1. Three judges will score each contestant and each song individually.
  2. Judging is as follows:

Arrangement – 40 points           Execution – 40 points

Show Value – 10 points            Overall Impression – 10 points

  1. Each song will be scored individually and the total of both songs will constitute the contestant’s score. The maximum score is 200 points. Three independent judges will score each contestant with the 3 judges’ scores averaged and rounded to 2 decimals with a 5 rounded up. (This is the scoring system at the Walnut Valley Association.)

What is the prize?

Cash prizes will be awarded to the winners in lieu of a dulcimer:

First Place Winner: $200.00
Second Place Winner: $100.00
Third Place Winner: $50.00

And good luck to all contestants!