Babette, some thoughts —
I have played in fiddle contests for 38 years all over the US and Canada. I have won some, lost some, had tons of fun, and had a few not so fun times. Here are a few things I learned:
1. No one wins every time, no matter who you are.
2. Different geographic areas like different fiddling. You can be considered the best in one area and the worst in another.
3. You cannot make a living playing fiddle contests, nor should they be your income supplement. If you break even that is enough. Semi-pro players discourage others from entering.
4. Be happy when you win, gracious when you lose or at least smile and not be negative.
5. If you don’t like the results, do your griping in the car, not at the contest.
6. Don’t bad mouth a contest, just don’t go the next time if you don’t like it.
7. If you think you can do better, put on your own contest – it is tons of work and underappreciated.
8. No one fiddle style is really better than another. Respect the area where you are competing.
9. Every time you get on the stage you give 3 to 5 humans the right to judge you and place you in the contest as THEY see fit – not as YOU see fit or as YOU are used to placing. Keep that in mind.
10. Your winning abilities will vary over the years – keep going and support the music even if you can’t win like you once did.
My fiddle hero Benny Thomason was one of the most humble people I ever met. I never heard him say a bad thing about anyone, he never claimed he played better than anyone else, and he never said that his style was better than anyone else. Emulate Benny. Play because you love to play and compete because you like to compete and support the music.