Ridge Roberts, a student at Somervell County's North Central Texas Academy (NCTA) at Happy Hill Farm, placed third in the Grand Championship Division of the annual National Oldtime Fiddlers' Contest in Weiser, Idaho on June 22.
Roberts, a 16-year-old who will be a sophomore this fall at NCTA, last year won the National Junior Championship (ages 13-17) there in the famous Weiser event, as well as the Twin Fiddle Division championship (open division) there.
Last September, he won a world championship when he captured the overall Grand Champion title at the 81st annual World Championship Fiddlers' Festival in Crockett, Texas.
Roberts is a two-time Texas junior state champion, and has won the Colorado state junior title once.
The opening round of competition in Weiser was on Thursday, followed by two rounds on Friday and two more on Saturday to wrap it up.
Roberts, who received a cash prize along with the third-place trophy, said he was happy with his performance.
“There was some really stiff competition,” Roberts said. “I just felt good about it all. I did the best I could.”
An adult woman won the overall title in the Grand Championship Division, while a man was runner-up. Roberts said he thinks there were 11 entered in his division.
“Everyone played well,” Roberts said.
The top three, including Roberts, all played with different fiddling styles.
“So I finally made the jump. Last year I was in the junior division. I’ve been playing in the open division,” Roberts said. “I wanted to win the junior division title division before I moved on (to the open division).”
Roberts, who began learning how to play the fiddle at age 7, from his father, took it to higher levels when he began taking lessons from professional fiddler Joey McKenzie of Burleson.
Lately he has been working on his guitar playing as well, and plays informally with a band called James A’Marie, which is based out of Hood County. Ridge lives with his mother, Cindy Roberts, father John Roberts and little brother Rio in their rural home southeast of Granbury. There is an older brother, Aedan, who is away attending Vanderbilt University in Nashville.
Roberts indicated that the Weiser event reignited his excitement for fiddling, but added, “I always loved it, and there’s never been a time I didn’t. But since I’ve gotten back from Weiser, I’ve been excited about it — about fiddling again. So it’s a good thing.”
Roberts, who also composes some music, said he can see improvement in his fiddling skills over this time a year ago.
“There has definitely been a lot of maturing as far as music goes,” he said. “I’m seeing a lot more things that were weaknesses that have gotten a lot better.
“I’ve grown up a lot in the last year. I just want to be as good as I can be.”
The next major event for Roberts will be Aug. 31 at the Grand Masters Fiddle Championship in Nashville. Roberts brought home second place in the open division there last year. This year, with Aedan living there while going to Vanderbilt, the family will get to have a brief but nice family reunion while there.
There are large number of YouTube video posts of Roberts performing, including at least one when he was only 9 years old. You can also find out more on his website (www.ridgeroberts.com).
For those who prefer to hear his talent on display in person, he will be making a couple of appearances in Granbury in late July.
He will be playing on July 24 at the Hood County Senior Center, and July 28 at the Silver Saddle Saloon. He plays with the band James A’Marie on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month at Harbor Lakes Country Club (free and open to the public).