Forrest Craig 1996

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Forrest H. Craig
Inducted in 1996

Forrest H. Craig was born in Joplin, Missouri, March 28, 1920. As the eleventh and youngest child of Charles and Addie Craig, he learned, early on to love a crowd. He also knew, early on, how much he loved fiddles and their music. He’ll tell you he took hours and hours of lessons to learn to play, but the lessons just didn’t quite, take to him.

As he grew up in Oklahoma, and later, moved to the oil patches of West Texas, Lake Charles, Louisiana, and Pasadena, Texas, Forrest built his reputation as a hard worker. For thirty years he represented the Union of Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers, International. In 1940, he married the late Barbara Little of San Antonio, and together, they loved and provided for two children, Charlie and Keran Sue.

It was on trips between Corpus Christi and New Orleans that Forrest tried his hand at making his first fiddle. Maybe he thought it could be improved upon, for it was the first of 121 fiddles he has now made. (And, it must have been a lot of trips to New Orleans to make that first instrument, because he says it takes about 200 hours to make a fiddle right). For the neck, back and sides, he uses maple wood. The top comes from spruce, but the true measure of a fiddle is in its tone and its quality of workmanship.As a member of the International Violin Makers Association, Forrest has won many top honors, including four Grand Championships.

For many years, Forrest has come to Hallettsville to enjoy the Texas State Championship Fiddlers’ Frolics and, with his wife and childhood friend Earline, has proven an enthusiastic and appreciative supporter of the contest. In 1990, to encourage youngsters to perfect the art of fiddle playing, he donated one of his handmade fiddles to the winners of the Freshman Division of 15 years old and under. Now, a sought-after prize, a Craig fiddle is donated again this year, for the 9th time. This gift, so painstakingly-created, gives young competitors extra-incentive to play the best of their abilities-abilities honed with practice, concentration, energy and family support. The First Place, one-time-only prize to the winning contestant has increased participation and interest in this age-group of fiddlers. When the “Frolics” was first organized, only four contestants enter the Freshman Division. Last year more than 40 youngsters competed.

With his skill in creating championship instruments and his devotion to perpetuating the legacy of fiddle music, particularly in Texas, Forrest H. Craig takes a rightful place in Texas Fiddler’s Hall of Fame.