Sisters Folk Festival changes songwriting contest

SISTERS, Ore. - The Sisters Folk Festival has shifted the focus of its songwriting contest to a showcase format.

The Dave Carter Memorial Songwriting Contest has been part of the festival from its beginning in 1995 and has helped bolster careers from that of first contest winner Dave Carter to festival regular Beth Wood to current winner RJ Cowdery.

Festival organizers decided this year to retire the contest.

"We felt the songwriting contest in its current format had run its course," said festival co-founder and board chair Jim Cornelius. "It has played an important role in the festival and we're proud to have helped boost the profile of so many great songwriters, but we felt it was time to do things differently.

"In recent years, it has become increasingly difficult to ask finalists from all over the country to travel to Central Oregon on the chance that they might win a contest," Cornelius noted. "That played into our decision. So did the logistical demands on our staff and volunteers. And, frankly, we've never been completely comfortable with the whole concept of ‘competitive songwriting.'"

To replace the contest, the festival will host the Dave Carter Songwriters Showcase. Songwriters selected by the festival's talent committee and booked at the festival will perform a set "in the round," as an opportunity to showcase their work to a listening audience in a setting that honors quality rather than fostering competition.

Cornelius noted that it was important to festival organizers to keep the late Dave Carter's name attached to the showcase.

"Dave was not only the winner of our first songwriting contest and a regularly booked performer, he was an important creative contributor to the shaping of the festival," Cornelius said. "He remains an inspiration to songwriters and an important part of what we do, and his name will continue to be associated with our efforts to promote the work of songwriters in this field of music."

The showcase lineup and venue will be announced soon.

For more information about the Sisters Folk Festival, visit

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