Contestants have come from as far away as Australia this year for the 78th Annual Old Fiddlers’ Convention, which is taking over Galax again this week.
While those contestants have come from the opposite side of the world, others from the United Kingdom, Netherlands and all points in between have descended upon the self-proclaimed Bluegrass Capital of the World for the annual installment of bluegrass, old-time music and a flat-footing good time. The event typically draws about 40,000 people each year, said Oscar Hall of the Galax Moose Lodge #733, which hosts the annual event.
“I just think it is the oldest and the largest in the world, and everybody that plays traditional, old-time and bluegrass music just wants to participate in it because of that,” Hall said. “Everybody has a good time.”
A total of 265 bands will compete in this year’s Fiddlers’ Convention, while more than 1,550 individual competitors are slated to take the stage at Felts Park during the week. The action kicks off Monday with the Fiddlers’ Youth Competition and continues Tuesday with Old-Time Fiddle, Dobro and Mandolin competitions.
Things begin to heat up more August 7 starting at 6 p.m. with competitions for Bluegrass Fiddle, Dulcimer and Bluegrass Banjo. Thursday night’s schedule begins at 6 p.m. and includes Clawhammer Banjo, Autoharp and Guitar competitions. The weekend events will begin at 6 p.m. Friday night with Old-Time Band and Bluegrass Band competitions. Saturday promises a full day of fun and great music, beginning with Folk Song and Flatfoot Dance competitions at noon, followed by Bluegrass Band and Old-Time Band competitions at 6 p.m. Winners will be announced in the early AM hours Sunday.
Hall said 93 old-time bands and 172 bluegrass bands would compete this year. The guitar competition has the most registered competitors with 285, followed by folk song (217), bluegrass banjo (185), mandolin (176), old-time fiddle (139), clawhammer banjo (137), bluegrass fiddle (127), flatfoot dance (92), dulcimer (74), dobro (62) and autoharp (57).
Ticket prices are $6 each day Monday through Thursday, $10 on Friday and $12 on Saturday. A season ticket pass of $40 is good for use the entire week. Children under 12 are admitted free with a paid escort.
Hall, a trustee and past Governor of the Galax Moose Lodge #733, has been involved with the Old Fiddlers’ Convention for 48 years. He said not much has changed during the past half century other than new categories that have been added to the competition over the years. But with an event as popular as the Fiddlers’ Convention, change is not necessarily a good thing, especially with a venture that draws so many visitors to Galax and the Twin Counties.
“That’s exactly right. It is good for the whole area because it bring so many people in to the city and the Moose Lodge and all the businesses around,” Hall said.
Visit www.oldfiddlersconvention.com for more information on the 78th annual Old Fiddlers’ Convention.