Mokane fiddle contest to be ‘toe-tapping good time’

MOKANE — The Old-Time Fiddler’s Contest at the Mokane Lion’s World’s Fair is a decades-old tradition.

Now named for the late Jake Hockemeyer, a local fiddler who achieved a lot of recognition for his playing — including several state titles — contest organizer Jim Buffington said the event “dates back at least to the 60s.”

“Fiddle music is just something ingrained in the fabric of this county and this state,” Buffington said. “It’s good entertainment, and people around here seem to really enjoy it.”

Jake Hockemeyer’s son, Rick, said his father always liked competing and playing with other fiddlers.

“My dad was one of the best fiddlers in the central U.S.,” Rick Hockemeyer said. “He enjoyed winning, and he won a lot.

“I remember one time we went, unannounced to Fort Worth, Texas and he played in the Montgomery Ward parking lot. He placed third, and Dad was tickled to death, because the same songs sounded totally different the way they played down there.”

Buffington said the 2012 Jake Hockemeyer Memorial Old-Time Fiddler’s Contest — to be held on Sept. 2 in Mokane — will give competitors the opportunity to win some of Hockemeyer’s old trophies. Registration starts at 2 p.m., with competition starting at 3 p.m.

“We’re going to try to pay up to five places for all of the divisions (youth, open and senior) and we have some old trophies Jake won in the ’60s and ’70s that have been refurbished and we’re going to give away to the top finisher of each category,” Buffington said, noting the top cash prize in the open division will be $100.

He said the Hockemeyer contest has been drawing in 18-24 contestants in recent years, and “hopefully we’ll get as many this year.”

Buffington said he is looking forward to the contest, especially the youth competition.

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