The Future of American Roots Music

The Youth Talent Competition encourages a new generation of American roots musicians by offering performance opportunities and exposure at the festival. The tradition began more than 19 years ago when four-time GRAMMY Winner Sarah Jarosz took first place. The competition continues to be a fertile ground for the development of young artists. Sarah Grace, semi finalist on Season 15 of the Voice, won the Youth Talent Competition in 2018.

2022 Youth Talent Competition Winners

1st place – Charlotte Blackmon
2nd place – Izaak Mora
3rd place – Reese Rylan

Entry Information


The age limit for the Youth Talent Competition is 18 years old and younger. Most contestants perform solo on a single instrument, however a contestant may have up to 2 supporting musicians.

Number of Contestants

The Youth Talent Competition is limited to 10 contestants. A contestant consists of either a solo performer or a group of up to 3 performers. OSMF will select the first 10 qualified applicants and 3 alternates. Applicants selected to perform will be notified no later than 45 days prior to the competition. To apply, fill out the registration form below.

Content Fee

There is no additional fee to register for the competition. Festival ticket rules apply. Each participant must be accompanied by an adult. With the exception of the competition contestant, children 13 years old and over are charged the same fee as adults.

Performance Guidelines

Finalists selected to compete in the Youth Talent Competition must follow these guidelines when choosing what music to perform:

  • Two-song performance set, covers and/or originals – 10-minute set maximum
  • American roots music – bluegrass, country, blues, gospel or traditional
  • Acoustic instruments only – no amplifiers, electronics or drum sets

All guidelines are subject to change without prior notice.


A team of music professionals select three winners. The judges’ decisions are final.

First Place

  • $250
  • 20-minute show on the Saturday of the competition
  • 45-minute showcase during festival the following year
  • Professional feedback on contest performance
  • Special mention from the main stage

Second Place

  • $150
  • Professional feedback on contest performance
  • Special mention from the main stage

Third Place

  • $100
  • Professional feedback on contest performance
  • Special mention from the main stage


Please email our Youth Talent Coordinator with any questions

Past Winners

2021 – Elle Townley
2019 – Elijah Delgado
2018 – Sarah Grace and the Soul
2017 – Sophie Scott
2016 – Griffin Carter
2015 – Joelton Mayfield
2014 – Alexander Nobles
2013 – Katy Kirby
2012 – Kimberly Zielnicki
2011 – Grace London
2010 – Minnie & Ella Jordan
2009 – Sara Mueller
2008 – The Fireants
2007 – Emily Elbert
2006 – Samantha Miller
2005 – Justine Blakely & Charlie Pomroy
2004 – Ashlee Rose
2003 – Isaac-Bryant Kids
2002 – Spurs of the Moment, featuring Sarah Jarosz

Photos courtesy of Ron Baker

Youth Talent Competition Registration