Now accepting entries in the 2015 contests at 800-624-2422 or

2015 Music Competitions

2014 Instrument Contest Winners  with Janet Deering & Sam Bush
2014 Instrument Contest Winners
with Janet Deering & Sam Bush

We are now accepting entries for the 5 different instrument contests at 800-624-2422 or Spaces in the 2015 RockyGrass band contest are now sold-out.

Since the first Rocky Mountain Bluegrass Festival in 1973, the band and instrument contests have been a central part of the festival experience. Cheer on the next generation of musicians as they vie for beautiful instruments, cash prizes, well-deserved recognition, and coveted spots on the main stage.

Congratulations to the 2014 band contest winners Caribou Mountain Collective as well as all of the instrument contest winners. See below for info about all this year's finalists.

2015 RockyGrass Band Competition

Bands perform around a single microphone in the Wildflower Pavilion on Saturday (preliminary round) and Sunday (final round) in the Wildflower Pavilion. Awards include an invitation to play a set at the 2016 Festival, cash prizes, and more. Past winners of the RockyGrass band contest include Steep Canyon Rangers, Chatham County Line, Town Mountain, Blue Canyon Boys, Front Country, The Railsplitters, and 2014 winners Caribou Mountain Collective.

2009 Band Contest Finalists
2009 Band Contest Finalists
(photo Benko Photographics)

2015 Band Contest Registration

Band Competition Prizes

2015 Band Competition Schedule

2015 Band Competition Rules

Bands Score in These Categories

2015 Instrument Contests

2014 Banjo Contest Winner Kane Hollins (photo Benko Photographics)
2014 Banjo Contest Winner Kane Hollins
(photo Benko Photographics)

The RockyGrass Music Competitions are traditional bluegrass competitions that began at the 1st Annual Rocky Mountain Bluegrass Festival in 1973. Instrumentalists compete on flatpick guitar, mandolin, banjo, dobro, and fiddle to receive beautiful instruments and cash prizes. The preliminary round is held in the Wildflower Pavilion on Friday and the final rounds are held on the RockyGrass main stage on Saturday morning for all to enjoy - with many of the finalists' performances broadcast live on KGNU Boulder-Denver.

2015 Instrument Contest Registration

We are now accepting registrations in all 5 of the instrument contests ($15 per contest) at or 800-624-2422. Please note that you must have a festival pass for Friday (for the preliminary round) and Saturday (to perform in the final round on the main stage). If you would like to enter an instrument contest, but you were not able to purchase tickets before they sold-out, give us a call at 800-624-2422.

2015 Contest Schedule

The preliminary round is held on Friday, July 24 in the Wildflower Pavilion. The 3 top contestants on each instrument will advance to the contest finals on the festival main stage on Saturday, July 25. Here are the schedules for each instrument:

RockyGrass Instrument Contest Prizes

Immediately after the final rounds on the main stage, the winner of each contest will be awarded a finely crafted new (or vintage) instrument. Watch for the announcement of the 2015 prizes this Spring. In the meantime, here are the gorgeous prizes we awarded in the 2014 contest:

Deering Eagle II Banjo
The Eagle II banjo is a whole new breed of banjo. It features the ground breaking, patent pending Twenty-Ten Tone Ring which is a completely original Deering design that is unlike any other traditional tone ring. It produces a high quality sound that is versatile for many styles of playing. While the sound is uniquely Eagle, it represents a refinement in the quality of banjo tone, something that allows the player to soar to new heights. It is perfect for the player who wants a professional quality banjo that he can use for playing many styles of music. Our newest and most affordable professional grade resonator 5-string banjo. Top
Gibson J-35 Guitar
Introduced in 1936, the J-35 was Gibson's answer to a call for a quality, handcrafted guitar with unrivaled tone and an incredible price. The 2013 J-35 is the modern equivalent of that original round-shoulder flat-top with Gibson's historically celebrated, full-bodied acoustic tone. Reborn for the same reasons that brought the original to the market, the J-35 is handcrafted with solid tone woods and all the acclaimed skill of Gibson Acoustic’s luthiers of Bozeman, Montana. The spruce top and mahogany back and sides produce the warm, expressive tone sought after by renowned artists, acoustic connoisseurs, [more...] record producers and sound engineers. The short-scale neck with dovetail neck-to-body joint, attached with traditional hot hide glue, provides for smooth tonal response and easy playing. An Antique Natural finish hand-sprayed with Gibson's signature nitrocellulose lacquer preserves the natural grain and lends a clean, modern look, while enhancing the guitar’s resonance. A unique fire stripe pick guard, multi-ply top binding and soundhole rosette, and a Gibson script and banner logo make it easy to distinguish the J-35 in the family of round-shoulder dreadnoughts. Equipped with a Baggs Element pickup, the J-35 is a go-to favorite for vocal accompaniment on stage or in the studio. [less...] Top
Gibson Sam Bush Signature Model F-5 Mandolin
Gibson is proud to present a Sam Bush Signature Model Mandolin to the winner of the RockyGrass mandolin contest. This handsome instrument features the most select figured maple back, sides, and neck. The top is select spruce, and it has an accurate '20s dovetail neck joint. The neck is unfinished on its back, and has the chunky profile of the late '30s. Its ebony fingerboard has mother-of-pearl block inlays, and string spacing is set to Sam Bush's specs. Finished in hand-rubbed nitrocellulose lacquer and sandblasted gold-plated hardware. The tailpiece sports Sam's signature. Top
Rayco Resophonics
Canadian resophonic guitar builder Rayco is proud to present this specially-built instrument for the RockyGrass dobro contest. The instrument is constructed from premium rosewood spruce. Built at a medium body depth for maximum projection, the guitar is huge sounding with plenty of punch and focused bottom end. It has cocobolo bindings, mop dot inlays, Scheerhorn cone, Gotoh Cosmo Black tuners, removable palm rest and deluxe freeboard extension. Founded in 2002, Rayco Resophonics has grown from part-time basement hobby to a world-renowned full-time venture based in Smithers, [more...] British Columbia. With their mission of building instruments to excite and inspire musicians with beautiful sounding & visually stunning instruments that will satisfy a lifetime of enjoyment, Rayco Resophonics are played by many top players including: Rob Ickes, Jerry Douglas, Todd Livingston, Nick Forster, Randy Kohrs, and Ivan Rosenberg. [less...] Top
1888 German Fiddle
This historic violin is over a century old, having been made in Dresden, Germany in 1888 in the workshop of Alfred Moritz. The beautiful instrument is a copy of violins made by Richard Duke, who was a prolific maker, in London, England in the mid-18th century. The fine folks at Woodsong's Lutherie in Boulder, Colorado have lovingly restored this timeless instrument, and it includes a new case to preserve it for generations to come. Top
The 2nd place finisher on each instrument will receive a check for $100 and the 3rd place finisher on each instrument will receive a check for $50. All 3 finalists on each instrument will also receive a commemorative RockyGrass Instrument Contest award ribbon.

RockyGrass Instrument Contest Rules

Pickers & Fiddlers Score in the Following Categories

2014 Contest Winners

2014 Band Contest Finalists

Congratulations to the top finalists in the 2014 RockyGrass band contest:

  1. Caribou Mountain Collective (Nederland, CO) -- who will be performing on the main stage at the 2015 RockyGrass Festival!
  2. Trout Steak Revival (Denver, CO)
  3. Thunder & Rain (Denver, CO)

2014 Instrument Contest Winners

Congratulations to all the finalists in the 2014 RockyGrass instrument contests: