Every summer, people travel from all around the country to visit the Old Fiddler’s Convention at Felts Park, in Galax, Va. Some of these people play music, some just come to listen. For others, it’s a way to get reacquainted with friends of days past.
Cash prizes are offered to the winners of various contests which involve fiddles, horns, guitars, harmonicas, and even some homemade musical gadgets. The conventions have been held since 1935 but it’s never really been about the prize money. Ask most anyone there and they’ll say they’ve come for the fun.
Although anyone wishing to compete must register in advance, there’s no cost for the registration. Over the years, they’ve added more and more events to the list, which now includes a children’s competition, complete with cash prizes for the winners. The original conventions were held during one day but the event now stretches out over a week, including a Saturday afternoon program, a competition on Tuesday and Wednesday, and the youth events on Monday.
Make sure you’re prepared for rain, which is a possibility and be sure to arrive at the park early. You cannot purchase a camping spot in advance, so you’ll want to elbow your way in at the break of dawn.
One competition can feature over a hundred competitors, so this is not a short event by any means. As a matter of fact, many visitors to the convention stay up all night, then take a quick nap sometime during the day so that they can stay up all night again. Be aware that no public displays of alcohol are permitted on the premises, and this law is strictly enforced by patrolling state police.
The weather can vary from scorching during the day to very cool at night, so pack for warm and cold weather. There are local motels available for those who opt not to camp, but reserve your room well in advance.
You can purchase tickets for only one day’s events or for the entire week. Or, you can purchase a season ticket which gives you passes to all events. Children under 12 are admitted free when escorted by a paying visitor.
Find more information at the official website including costs for events, campsite prices, and schedules.