Songwriting and Performance Contest

2019 Songwriting Finalists

The following songwriters will perform Sunday, August 25 at Site A beginning at 11:30 AM. The winner will be invited to play the Sunday closing concert.

  • Cassie Boettcher, Burbank, CA
  • Jim Carlson, Eau Claire, WI
  • Tim Fast, Elk River, MN
  • Peter Lindsey, Dekalb, Il
  • John Louis, Minneapolis, MN
  • David Nash, Onalaska, WI
  • Nicky Nieling, Rochester, MN
  • Despina Pafralides, Round Lake Park, Il
  • Russ Parrish, Burnsville, MN
  • Matt Schoch, Viroqua, WI
  • Joe Uker, La Crosse, WI
  • Brandon Van Dalen, Appleton, WI

About the Contest

Twelve finalists will be selected to perform two songs each at the Great River Folk Festival on Sunday, August 25. Songwriters will be evaluated on songwriting and performance by a panel of Great River Folk Festival judges.

All entries will receive a free pass to the festival for Sunday. The first place act will receive a cash prize, a day in a recording studio at Grammy Award-winning Sound Strations, and will perform as the opening act on the main stage later Sunday afternoon. Second and Third places will also receive a cash prize.

Sound_Strations (12K)

The twelve finalists will be contacted by e-mail and be listed on the GRFF web site at:


All entrants

receive one free Festival pass for Sunday August 26.

1st Place :

  • $150 cash
  • One day in the studio at Soundstrations Audio Productions in La Crosse, WI (an $850 value)
  • A performance of your two songs at the Fest Closing Concert, Sunday afternoon.

2nd Place:

$ 75 cash

3rd Place:

$ 50 cash

Judging will be calculated by the following criteria:

  • Songwriting (composition, lyrics, melody)
  • Instrumental performance
  • Vocal performance
  • Performers stage presence

Past Winners


  • 1st Place – Greg Gilbertson, Chippewa Falls, WI
  • 2nd Place – David Nash, Onalaska, WI
  • 3rd Place – Fran Felton, Viroqua, WI


  • 1st Place – Laura Joy, Oak Park, IL
  • 2nd Place – Randy Adams, Chippewa Falls, WI
  • 3rd Place – Rick Thompson, La Crescent, MN
  • 4th Place – Jim Armstrong & Pippa Armstrong, Winona, MN


  • 1st Place – Blaine Howard, Fairchild, WI
  • 2nd Place – Traci Stinebrink, Rhinelander, WI
  • 3rd Place – Mike Caucutt, La Crosse, WI


  • 1st Place – Michael Monroe, Grand Marais, MN
  • 2nd Place – Jane Fallon, Brookline NH
  • 3rd Place – Joe Schwem, Bozeman, MT


  • 1st Place – Derek Olsen, New Lisbon, WI
  • 2nd Place – Jeff Cozy, La Crosse, WI
  • 3rd Place – Jim Gary, Elmhurst, IL


  • 1st Place - Aric Sampson, Galesville, WI
  • 2nd Place - Katie Dahl, Baileys Harbor, WI
  • 3rd Place - Joe DeLucia, Port Washington, WI


  • 1st Place - Barb and Tom Webber - Milwaukee, WI
  • 2nd Place - Roger Wendover (Brojo Rog) - LaCrosse, WI
  • 3rd Place - Scott Wilcox - Tomah, WI


  • 1st place - Joe Danielson & Casey Yeager (duo) - Cadott, WI
  • 2nd place - Roger Wendover - LaCrosse, WI
  • 3rd place - Kris Risch & Lisa Risch (duo) - Holmen, WI


  • 1st place - Tim Fast - Elk River, MN


  • 1st place - Mike Caucutt - LaCrosse, WI
Greg Gilbertson 2018 Songwriting Contest winner, Greg Gilbertson of Chippewa Falls, WI performs on the main stage during Sunday’s concert.
laura Joy 2017 songwriting Contest winner, Laura Joy of Oak Park, IL performs on the main stage during Sunday’s concert.
Blaine Howard Photo_J_Weigel
2016 Songwriting Contest winner, Blaine Howard of Fairchild, WI performs during the contest. (Photo Jerry Weigel).
MichaelMonroe_2015 (12K) 2015 Songwriting Contest winner, Michael Monroe of Grand Marais, MN, performs from the Main State at the Sunday Concert (Photo Jerry Weigel).
DerekOlson_2014_350 (26K) 2014 Songwriting Contest Winner Derek Olson Performs at the Sunday Concert (photo Jerry Weigel)
Aric Sampson) Aric Sampson performs during the Sunday Closing Concert after winning the 2013 Great River Folk Fest Songwriters and Performers Contest earlier in the day.

Casey Yeager and Joe Danielson
2011 winners Casey Yeager and Joe Danielson perform their winning songs.