Visitors from all over the globe are back in Galax this week for their yearly dose of toe tappin’ and banjo pickin’ as the 77th Annual Old Fiddlers’ Convention takes over the city once again.
Proudly proclaiming itself as the bluegrass capital of the world, Galax will host 265 bluegrass and old-time bands this week and more than 1,500 individual competitors in categories ranging from bluegrass banjo to the autoharp in Felts Park.
“People can expect a lot of good ole-time and bluegrass music for the whole week,” said Oscar Hall of the Galax Moose Lodge #733. “People will be jamming all over the park at night, practicing, there will be music everywhere.”
The week kicked off August 6 with the fiddlers’ youth competition. The following day, an attempt was planned to try to set a new record in the Guinness Book of World Records for the Largest Mandolin Ensemble.
Bluegrass fiddle, dulcimer and bluegrass banjo competitions are scheduled for Aug. 8 beginning at 6 p.m., while clawhammer banjo, autoharp and guitar competitions are on tap for Aug. 9. The weekend events will start up Aug. 10 at 6 p.m. with old-time band and bluegrass band competitions. Saturday’s slate is full with folk song and flatfoot dance competitions starting at noon, followed by bluegrass band and old-time band competitions at 6 p.m.
“They can hardly believe it when they see it. It’s unbelievable to most of them,” Hall said of most people’s first reaction to the Fiddlers’ Convention. “It’s a family-oriented thing and we try to keep it that way.”
Hall said 96 old-time bands will compete this year, while 169 bluegrass bands are scheduled to battle it out. The guitar competition has the most registered contests at 313, followed by folk song (206), bluegrass banjo (191), mandolin (172), old-time fiddle (149), bluegrass fiddle (140), clawhammer banjo (115), flatfoot dance (102), dulcimer (63), autoharp (59) and dobro (58).
Ticket prices are $6 on Wednesday and Thursday, $10 on Friday and $12 on Saturday. A season ticket pass of $40 will get visitors in anytime the entire week. Children under 12 are admitted free with a paid escort.
Hall said the number of contestants this year is slightly above average for the Old Fiddlers’ Convention. The event is the primary fundraiser for the Galax Moose Lodge #733.
“The crowds have been pretty steady in recent years,” Hall said. “We generally sell around 30,000 to 35,000 tickets every year during the whole week.”
Visit www.oldfiddlersconvention.com for more information on the 77th annual Old Fiddlers’ Convention.