The judging panel consists of qualified musicians using blind judging. Judges do not see any contestant nor hear an introduction or commentary. Contestants are identified by number only.

There are three judges for fiddlers. Judges follow standardized guidelines used at most regional, state, and national fiddle contests. Performances are judged using traditional old-time fiddling criteria including authentic performance style, expression, timing control, rhythm suitability for selected tune, intonation, dance-ability, difficulty, overall execution, and appropriateness of accompaniment.

Contestants scores are tabulated using a computer program designed to aid the scoring process.

The Judges

Bob and Danita Gardner

Danita Gardner is originally from Idaho but now lives in the San Francisco Bay area. She once taught fiddle and had a full studio but spent the last six years chasing her daughter around. Danita often competed in fiddle contests and has won both the Grand Masters in Nashville, TN and the National Oldtime Fiddle Contest in Weiser, ID three times each. She received her undergraduate degree from Sam Houston State University in Texas in Violin Performance and her masters degree at Boise State University in Violin Pedagogy.

Dave Johns

Dave Johns has been playing guitar for 59 years, playing folk music, old time country music, traditional bluegrass, fiddle tunes, fiddle back up, and swing standards.  He has attended many fiddle contests over the years, including 42 trips to Weiser.  Dave backed up Benny Thomasson in 1974 when Benny won the Open and Senior contests, when Mark O'Connor won in 1981, and when John Francis won in 1982.  Dave has backed up many notable fiddlers including Danita Gardener, Byron Berline, Gary Lee Moore, Vivian Williams, Barbara Lamb, Johny McDonald, and Tallon Sandoval.  So, even though Dave does not play fiddle, he has played with some of the best and knows what good fiddling is.  Dave has judged several fiddle contests including The Western Open, California State Contest, and the Cloverdale Contest, and is looking forward to this Cloverdale Contest.

Brandon Godman

Brandon Godman grew up in Kentucky and began playing fiddle at the age of 10.  He played local square dances with Bluegrass and country bands, while learning Western swing and contest style fiddling for his summer travels to contests and festivals.  At the age of 17, he got hired by Bluegrass legend Melvin Goins for a brief time, which affirmed his desire to play music professionally.  
Over the years he has played with New Found Road, Dale Ann Bradley, Doyle Lawson, Karl Shifflet, The Wildwood Valley Boys, David Peterson, Jon Pardi, The Band Perry, and his own group, The Music City Doughboys.  
Now residing in San Francisco, he travels as part of Laurie Lewis and the Right Hands.  He also repairs and deals in violin family instruments and bows around the country.