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Passin' Thru was selected as Best Band.

Springtime Fiddlers circuit concludes with blowout in Highfalls

ROBBINS – After a three-year hiatus due to the COVID pandemic, the 85th Annual Highfalls Fiddlers’ Convention returned to the North Moore High School auditorium in Robbins. New promoter Miranda Smith and her committee brought back the annual acoustic talent show after its former hosts, Highfalls Elementary School, decided to focus their fundraising efforts in another direction.


The 22-year-old NC State student explained her involvement: “I’m just someone who used to attend (the event) as a kid while I was (a student) at Highfalls/North Moore.”


Hating to see the annual bluegrass competition cease, Smith stepped up to the plate, rolled up her sleeves, and went to work. Her efforts paid off.


Emcee for the event, Big T Lassiter, announced from stage. “They ran out of arm bands (at the ticket booth). We have had over 600 in attendance.”


Winners for this year’s competition were:

Band — 1. Passin’ Thru, 2. Once in a Blue Moon, 3. Franklinville Express.

Fiddle — 1. Sachie Sharp, 2. Sam Hill, 3. Keith Dunn.

Banjo — 1. Jack Ritter, 2. Rodney Haywood, 3. Tom Hyatt.

Mandolin — 1. Alex Meredith, 2. Dwayne Runyon, 3. John Bishop.

Guitar — 1. CH Lineberry, 2. John Michael Hill, 3. Cooper Marona.

Bass — 1. John Fogleman, 2. Jimmy Damron, 3. Travis Brady.

Dobro — 1. Daniel Smith, 2. Pammy Davis, 3. Sandy Hatley.

Vocal — 1. Teresa Marley, 2. Anita Bishop, 3. Justin Davis.

Dancers — 1. Brad Davis, 2. Jimmie Harrington, 3. Kathy Shilling.

Judges’ Choice Award — Gracie Arnett (vocal/guitar)

Most Outstanding Adult — Alex Meredith (mandolin)

Youth winners:

Guitar — 1. Elliot King, 2. Miles Welch, 3. Nolan Garner

Banjo — 1. Cameron Edenfield

Mandolin — Jacob Hill

Vocal — 1. Chelsea Edenfield

Outstanding Youth Performance — Chelsea Edenfield

Theron Caviness Memorial Best Banjo Award — Jack Ritter


Caviness (who passed away in 2019 at age 94) was remembered when his banjo-picking son, Elton, took the stage and presented Ritter the second annual Theron Caviness Best Banjo Player Award. Ritter was also the recipient of the memorial at the last convention held in 2019. The young banjoist was awarded a plaque and $100. 


The elder Caviness first attended Highfalls Fiddlers' Convention as a listener in 1937. He learned to play music on a homemade four string banjo with a cat skin head and formed a band with his brother, uncle and cousin. They called themselves the Red Star Boys and began competing in area fiddlers' conventions. Over the next 25 years, the Moore County native picked banjo. After developing arthritis, he switched to bass fiddle and continued to compete, even winning the first bass prize at the Highfalls Convention in 2017 at age 92. 


His son, Elton, who performed for years with his dad in their band, Solid Rock Bluegrass, referenced his father's legacy. "He has been an inspiration to many people, especially those that started playing music at an early age. He was always complimenting their talent and encouraging them to stick with their instrument, practice hard, and one day reap the benefits."


Plans are already under way for the 86th Annual Highfalls Fiddlers’ Convention next year. It will return to its original date, the second weekend in March between Star and Seagrove’s talent competitions.