Student wins national fiddling competition

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    By Sarah Atkinson

    A BYU student is a national fiddling champion after winning a week-long fiddling festival in Weiser, Idaho.

    Malinda DeBry, 20, a sophomore from Idaho majoring in marriage, family, human development, has been competing in the National Oldtime Fiddlers” Contest since she was five.

    DeBry, who is also a member of BYU”s Folk Ensemble, said she has been a top ten finalist in the competition every year, but this is her first win.

    “I can finally say I”m the national champion,” she said.

    Layna Hafer, the contest director, said there are fiddling contests in 29 states, but Weiser is home to the oldest and most prestigious fiddling contest.

    “We call it the Super Bowl of Fiddling,” said Elise Walker, executive director of the Weiser Chamber of Commerce.

    She said fiddlers from around the country come to Weiser for national honors.

    Hafer said the fiddle contest has very clear rules. Each contestant must play three tunes including a hoedown and a waltz.

    The songs are judged on danceability, old-time style, rhythm and tone.

    Contestants are classified into different age groups and DeBry won the young adult division.

    Her husband, Mark DeBry, said the contest is always as important for the entire family as it is for his wife.

    “Her grandma came, her great-grandma came, and everybody was just so excited for her,” he said.

    Competing through the playoffs to win a championship takes six days and 18 tunes.

    The classic fiddling tune “Sally Goodin” was one of the songs Malinda DeBry played.

    Mark DeBry said his wife is lucky to have even three hours a week to practice and she plays all the songs by memory.

    “By the time she was six she knew 100 songs by memory,” he said. “She”s been given a gift, and she”s so humble about it.”

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