Competition Rules, FAQ, Updates, News

2017 Competition Notice

Critical Information for Competition Applicants

For all you anxious competitors:

On February 1st at 12:01 am (Eastern Standard Time, Ontario, Canada), the registration opens. No, you do not have to be Canadian to compete in the Canadian Guitar Festival Fingerstyle Guitar Competition. We have competitors from all around the world, from almost every continent. DO NOT SEND AN EMAIL BEFORE FEBRUARY 1 at 12:01 EST. It will be ignored.

To register, you will email Del Vezeau [] stating that you wish to compete and that you have read the rules and agree to abide by those rules. IMPORTANT: If you are under 18, your parents must send the email and copy, acknowledging that they have read the rules and authorize your participation. We cannot stress enough: make sure you have read and understood the rules.

Spots are given on a first come, first serve basis. You will be sent an email, letting you know if you are in the first 25 (and where you sit on that list - so if you are the 3rd email received you will get a congrats email stating you are number 3 on the confirmed competitor list). If you are number 26 or more, you will be notified that you are on the standby list, and where you sit on that list. You will not be given any further notice of where you sit on that list. The standby list does change, quite a bit! If you have sent the email and do not hear from Del within 24 hours, send a follow up right away please!

The first 25 registrants will hear from Del again near the beginning of May with instructions on confirming their spot. You will have a predetermined amount of time to pay (via PayPal) your registration fee, which is your weekend camping pass (whether you choose to camp for the weekend or not). If you have not confirmed and paid by the deadline, the spot will be offered to the next person on the standby list (who will have a shorter deadline) and down the.list we go until there are 25 paid, registered competitors. There is NO refund.

If, after we have our paid registered 25 competitors and you are not one of them, there may still be the opportunity to compete. Last year's Competition Winner, (Kevin) Blake Goodwin, qualified through the alternates list!

If you are at the Canadian Guitar Festival, and a competitor does not show up, for ANY reason, they forfeit their spot and any standby competitors who are backstage at 9 am will be eligible to take that spot - of course in order of their place on the list.

Hopefully this has answered the general questions. If you have anymore, please check the website and if you still have questions then feel free to email: Organizer Del Vezeau.

Hone those chops and see you at the lake!

The Canadian Fingerstyle Guitar Competition has introduced many recording artists to the world over the years. Many have also gone on to win recognition at the International Fingerstyle Guitar Competition held at the Walnut Valley Festival in Winfield Kansas. We, along with our Partners, are proud to have helped to introduce such talents to the knowledgeable and appreciative visitors to the CGF. We are confident that this year's entries will carry on the tradition of love for the music and technical excellence.

Hone those chops and See you at the lake!

The grand prize for the 2015 Canadian Fingerstyle Competition
Courtesy of Stonebridge Guitars

Can't view the video? Try downloading (right-click and 'save as...') one of these: Stonebridge_Guitars.mp4, Stonebridge_Guitars.ogv, Stonebridge_Guitars.flv.

Blake claimed the Stonebridge Guitars model G21SW-C acoustic guitar.

The first runner up this year was Adam Crossman of Bethany, Ontario who earned a semi-hollow body guitar from Hagstrom Guitars of Sweden. Our second runner up was Ace Ting of Kitchener, Ontario who took home a Breedlove Guitars A-style mandolin.

Updated Mar 10, 2017

2016 Competition Winners

And a clean sweep for Furch and Stonebridge Guitars


The 2016 CGF Competition winners (L-R): Ali Deniz Kardelen (2nd place), Jamie Dupuis (1st place), and Jaume Cabalgante (3rd place) photo: Stonebridge Guitars

Congratulations to Jamie Dupuis from Sudbury, Ontario (right) for winning 1st place at the Canadian Fingerstyle Competition today. He took home a brand new G20CM-C from Furch Guitars / Stonebridge Guitars International and a recording/travel package from FRETMONKEY RECORDS.

Finishing in 2nd place was Ali Deniz Kardelen from Istanbul, Turkey. He traveled far and impressed us all. Congratulations.

Finishing 3rd place was Jaume Cabalgante from Mallorca, Spain. Incredible stuff.

Also finishing top five were Joel Saunders from Toronto, Ontario, and Mark A. Bayer from Indiana, USA.

Thanks to the Canadian Guitar Festival for hosting another great event. The judges had a tough task to decide on the winners. Thanks to Don Ross, Preston Reed, Antoine Dufour and Justin St-Pierre.

Each of the top three players competed with Furch and Stonebridge Guitars. A clean sweep by the advocates of these world class guitars. Great day for fingerstyle guitar.

report courtesy of Wendy Bowes

Updated May 6, 2016

2016 Competition Prize Increase

FretMonkey Records Ups the Ante

As if our historic Grand Prizes offered by our outstanding Partners - see above and Thank You Partners! - we are pleased to provide the following announcement from last year's Competition winner:

"FretMonkey Records is excited to present the winner a recording/music prize package that will include the production of a 5-song EP, in-studio session music video, FretMonkey Records merchandise, accommodations at the FretMonkey Records studio, and airfare (up to $750). The package is valued at over $2,250."

Blake Goodwin

Updated July 28, 2015

2015 Competition Winners

Another Truly Amazing Competition - Wow!

First of all, every year it seems that the Competition competitors just keep raising the performance bar higher. This year most assuredly continued that tradition. Our congratulations go out to each and every artist who battled their own nerves and the talented fellow competitors to amaze us one more time. Well done... and thank you!

This year's winner not only offered a "first among equals" performance, but his background story is simply amazing. Like some kind of inspiring story book tale, he signed up as merely an alternate on the list only to discover that a Competition place opened up at the last minute ... and trust us, that is getting ahead of this amazing story. So without further ado, we congratulate the 2015 Canadian Guitar Festival Champion: (Kevin) Blake Goodwin from Little Rock, Arkansas.

Blake Goodwin, 2015 Competition winner Blake's candid reaction upon being informed that he had won the Competition:

"Omg guys!!!!!! I did it!!!! I won first place at the international Canadian guitar competition! I went as a alternate, got in and some how managed to get first! Those players were the best i have ever seen and feel honored to play on the same stage! Everybody made me feel super welcomed and showed great hospitality! Thank you all for the support! Most of all thank you to my family and friends who have stood by me!"

For the rest of his inspiring story, check out Blake's web site.

 Blake Goodwin performs 'Harris' on YouTube


We also congratulate first runner up Adam Christopher Crossman from Peterborough, Ontario and 2nd runner up Ace Ting from Kitchener, Ontario on their outstanding performances. You both made the judges' job very difficult indeed.

We round out the top 5 with Alexander Flock from Vancouver, British Columbia and Jamie Dupuis from Sudbury, Ontario. Excellent efforts from both. No doubt we will see them on the podium as well. Hone those chops and we look forward to seeing you back in 2016.

2015 Competition winners From left to right:

Del Vezeau (CGF Founder / Promoter), Roger Schmidt (Stonebridge Guitars), Blake Goodwin (1st place), Adam Crossman (2nd place), Ace Ting (3rd place) and Don Ross (Master of Ceremonies).

 Honour Roll

  • Season 12 2016
  • 1 - Jamie Dupuis - Sudbury, Ontario
  • 2 - Ali Deniz Kardelen - Istanbul, Turkey
  • 3 - Jaume Cabalgante - Mallorca, Spain
  • 4 - Joel Saunders - Toronto, Ontario
  • 5 - Mark A. Bayer - Indiana, USA

  • Season 11 2015
  • 1 - (Kevin) Blake Goodwin - Little Rock, Arkansas
  • 2 - Adam Christopher Crossman - Peterborough, Ontario
  • 3 - Ace Ting - Kitchener, Ontario
  • 4 - Alexander Flock, Vancouver, British Columbia
  • 5 - Jamie Dupuis, Sudbury, Ontario

  • Season 10 2014
  • 1 - Bob McAlpine - Toronto ON
  • 2 - David Youngman - Hillsdale, MI
  • 3 - Matteo Palmer - Vergennes, VT
  • 4 - Kris Schulz - Vancouver BC
  • 5 - Jovanny Parvedy - Paris France

  • Season 9 2013
  • 1 - Justin St-Pierre - Abitibi/Montreal PQ
  • 2 - David Youngman - Hillsdale, Mich.
  • 3 - Goske Omori - Japan via Vancouver
  • 4 - Stephan Friesen - Winnipeg MB
  • 5 - Paul Stangl - Lancaster PA

  • Season 8 2012
  • 1 - Dylan Ryche, Toronto ON
  • 2 - Justin St-Pierre, Montreal PQ
  • 3 - Alex Flock, Vancouver BC
  • 4 - David D'Alesandro, Philadelphia PA
  • 5 - JJ Coolidge, Montreal PQ

  • Season 7 2011
  • 1 - Kevin Horrigan, Milwaukee, WI
  • 2 - Bob McAlpine, Toronto ON
  • 3 - Jon Finley, St. Paul MN

  • Season 6 2010
  • 1 - Calum Graham, High River, AB
  • 2 - Dylan Ryche, Toronto ON
  • 3 - Trevor Gordon Hall, Philadelphia PA
  • 4 - Justin St-Pierre, Montreal PQ
  • 5 - Derek Sammak, Englishtown, NJ

  • Season 5 2009
  • 1 - Ewan Dobson, Toronto ON
  • 2 - Calum Graham, High River, AB
  • 3 - Trevor Gordon Hall, Philadelphia PA

  • No CGF Held In 2008

  • Season 4 2007
  • 1 - Craig D'Andrea, Greenwich, CT
  • 2 - Don Alder, Vancouver, BC
  • 3 - Giovanni Baglioni, Italy

  • Season 3 2006
  • 1 - Antoine Dufour, Montreal PQ
  • 2 - Kelly Valleau, Belleville ON
  • 3 - Craig D'Andrea, Greenwich, CT

  • Season 2 2005
  • 1 - Erick Turnbull, Napanee, ON
  • 2 - Antoine Dufour, Montreal PQ
  • 3 - Andy Mckee, Topeka KS

  • Season 1 2004
  • 1 - Robert Taylor, El Cajon CA
  • 2 - Andy McKee, Topeka KS
  • 3 - Erick Turnbull, Napanee, ON

Competition Rules

On stage rules:

  • No singing
  • No talking to the audience
  • No flat picking
  • Thumb picks are acceptable

Competition General Rules

There is no entrance fee for the competition itself but only those who purchase a camping pass will be eligible to compete in the competition. Advanced ticket sales are required via PayPal or other means for eligibility verification. No exceptions.

The competition is open to anyone of any nationality. The title of the event is "The Canadian Fingerstyle Guitar Championship"

The number of entrants is limited to 25. Each contestant will play two separate pieces for a total time of no more than twelve minutes. Contestants must pre-register and have had their registration confirmed by the organizers.

Five finalists will then be selected from the 1st round and will perform ONE additional song each. The order of these performances will be determined by 'random draw', in keeping with the same manner as that which determined the order of the first round.

Three finalists will then be selected by the judges in order of first to third.

Hired main stage performers of the Canadian Guitar Festival are not eligible to compete in the fingerstyle competition that same weekend. The main stage performers, those willing and available, will be the judges. As the wise folks in Winfield have discovered, the judges will be in a separate area away from the stage and will only know the contestants by their respective competitor identification numbers.

Each contestant will perform in a seated position into a condenser microphone as provided by the organizers.

Judging will be done on an Olympic model points system.

There will be four judges.

The competition begins at 10:00 sharp on the Sunday morning, and marks the final day of the Festival. All registered competitors must assemble at 9:00 am sharp - ONE HOUR PRIOR to the competition, behind the stage end of the building for final registration. It is here that we determine the order of your appearance in the event by placing numbers 1 through 25 into the hat. The number you draw is your new and only identity for the next 5 or 6 hours... keep it close :-)

Prior to the drawing of numbers we determine that everyone who is expected to be there IS there...and if that number falls short for some reason we go to the list of alternates (people who were a tad late entering before quota was reached) once we have our 25 people, the numbers are drawn. If you sleep in, get a flat tire, your wife's water breaks, or are in any manner late... please understand that the drawn numbers are final... it is one thing to test your own fate... but hardly fair to force everyone else to monkey with theirs by having to reach into the hat for a 2nd time. No one wants to take a pregnancy test twice, right?!

Okay then. 9:00 am it is!

To our confirmed competitors: practice, breath, practice, relax. The judges will be affected by that which 'moves' them. It could be a tear-jerker of a composition... or it could be a linear locomotive busting through the walls... but whatever it is they'll be hearing so make it yours. Own it.

While there is no entry fee for the guitar competition as such, only those who purchase a camping pass will be eligible to compete for the competition. You don't have to camp, but your bases are at least covered if you want to. Advanced ticket sales are required via PayPal or other means for eligibility verification. No exceptions.


frequently asked questions

We have put together your most commonly asked questions and provided the definitive answers. Please review this section thoroughly if you have a question about the Competition. Thank you.

 "I was perusing your site, I was checking out the competition rules, what is the difference between using a thumb pick, and just holding a flat pick? Fingerstyle can be played employing both methods, the thumb pick can be used like a flat pick, and visa-versa. Music is an auditory thing, so if you don't see what he is using, thumb or flat, what's the difference? Just wondering."

 - Well good question - if a player is using a flat pick in addition to other digits then likely finger style it technically can still be... however, assuming that at least two of the digits are employed for the sake of controlling the flat pick, that leaves but three to do other things. Flat picking in the general sense, speaks more to musical idioms than it does mechanics... so a flat picker by that standard, is easily spotted by what we hear and not necessarily by what we see. It can look like a duck... but it can't quack like one. [ Can I copyright that? ;-) ]

 "I just had a quick question concerning the use of thumb picks. Can some parts of songs be played only with a thumb pick (ex. a fast melodic line being playing with cross-picking)? I play fingerstyle guitar, but my pieces are peppered with some cross-picking. I just wanted to make sure this is permitted."

 - Thumb picks are a mainstay in the FS world... if their use occasionally crosses over then this is chalked up to added technique. I can see no negative connotations here.

 I just read over the rules and would like more information about the requirement that:
"Each contestant will perform in a seated position into a condenser microphone as provided by the organizers."
My instrument of choice is the Gibson Chet Atkins solid body nylon string, requiring amplification such as direct in to the board. Also, I very much prefer a stool to a chair. Please advise.

 You're the first one to raise this question about the solid body guitars. In short, the rules require that all contestants are amplified by the same condenser mic. This of course implies that the instrument should have some ability to project. What we can do is have you play into your own amp and we can pick this up with the mic. It's not really the optimal way for us to go, but if the alternative would negatively impact your performance, that would not do anyone any favors with respect to the spirit of the event.
Chair, stool... whatever you'd like, that's fine.
One note of advice on the amp: try to keep your sound as clean and honest as possible... ie no digital delay etc ;-)

 The Prizes

Every year, the Canadian Guitar Festival Competition boasts over 12,000 dollars worth of prizes for the undiscovered artists who show a high caliber of technical proficiency along with new composition to the artform.

As always, the first place winner is guaranteed a competition spot in the International Fingerstyle Guitar Competition held at the Walnut Valley Festival in Winfield Kansas this fall.

The entire list of prizes will be announced as soon as possible. Check back often.

Hone those chops!

See you at the lake!