Who knew there even was a whistling contest…what’s it all about?

February 23, 2017

For more than 40 years the National and International Whistlers Convention has been held in Louisburg, North Carolina, USA. It started out small back in 1973 and has blossomed over time to include whistlers from around the globe. The convention is more than a competition. It includes a whistling school, concerts, group meals, opportunities for sharing new techniques, and is a whole lot of fun. The man behind it all was Allen De Hart, a former administrator at Louisburg College, which is where the convention talks place. There was also a platoon of other organizers and helpers, including Lillian Benton. They committed a substantial portion of their lives to fostering the art of whistling and they deserve much credit and praise. Sadly, Allen passed away in 2016 at the age of 90. I am blessed to have known him. I whistled Happy Birthday to him on his 90th birthday, a few months before he died. In recent years the convention and competition have been hosted by other countries.

During the time I competed (1993-2004) the contest consisted of two categories: popular and classical. There’s also allied arts, which is not officially part of the contest but affords people the opportunity to combine whistling with some other art or skill, such as singing, guitar, dance, mime, and other creative expressions.

Contestants had up to four minutes to perform a popular piece before a live audience and panel of judges and up to six minutes for a classical piece. There are preliminaries and finals and, when necessary, tie breakers.