Athens is home to the Old Fiddler's Contest that I've unfortunately never been able to attend. However, they honor this art form in the square, by the old courthouse. There stands a bronze sculpture of an old fiddler. Fiddlin' is no joke in this city. If you are in the area Memorial Day weekend make sure to stop by the contest on Friday night!
From the website:
Held the last Friday each May, The Athens Old Fiddlers Contest and Reunion is known nationwide, and as far as we know, is the longest running contest of its kind. Festivities begin on the lawn of the Courthouse at 9:00am and never slow down until the street dance ends at midnight. Bring the whole family for this good old fashioned day of fun. There's plenty to do for kids of all ages.
History of the Fiddlers Contest
In 1932 the Bethel Community, situated six miles north of Athens, decided to stage a county-wide fiddlers contest as a climax to a farmers' study course. Fourteen string bands entered the contest and approximately 900 people attended. The event had such an enthusiastic response that plans were made to make the contest an annual affair.
In 1933 the contest moved to the Athens High School auditorium. From 1934 to present, the Fiddlers Contest has been held on the Courthouse Square in Athens to accommodate the ever-expanding crowds of music lovers.
The Texas Fiddlers Contest and Reunion has served as a homecoming for many people. They gather on the courthouse lawn, bringing their quilts and lawn chairs to relax while listening to the music and renewing old acquaintances.
The Texas Fiddlers Contest and Reunion is held the last Friday in May and is produced by the Texas Fiddlers Association.
There have been many stories on who invented the Hamburger but it seems that Athens lays claim to the first ground beef being put between slices of bread, garnished with ground mustard, mixed with mayonnaise, a big slice of Bermuda onion and sliced cucumber pickles. After a reasonable amount of research and some substantial evidence including a photo, it seems the person who first came up with the Hamburger Sandwich was Fletcher Davis who sold sandwiches from a booth on the midway at the 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis and was the one who introduced the newest sandwich innovation to people from all over the world. It seems that the ‘hamburger’ had been sold at Athen’s lunch counters in the late 1880’s. The residents were so impressed they raised money to send ‘Old Dave’ (as he was known) to the Worlds Fair in St Louis.
Athens is known as the Black-eyed Pea Capitol of the World and the festival is held in July each year. There are of course various black-eyed pea dishes as well other things to eat, as well as pea shelling, pea eating, pea popping contests. Plenty of entertainment as well as an arts and crafts fair and a water melon eating contents. Lets not forget the Miss Black-eyed Pea pageant. It’s a big weekend, run over about 3 days on the 3rd weekend of the month.
This event is held on the Courthouse Square on the last Friday in May and is an annual event dating back to 1932. The Grand Championship is enjoyed by young and old with jam sessions, street dances as well as food stalls.