Musicians from all over the world will be arriving in Galax over the next few days for the 79th annual Old Fiddlers’ Convention, the world’s oldest and largest such event.
Oscar Hall, a trustee of Galax Moose Lodge #733, which hosts the event, said the lodge is expecting contestants from Australia, Canada and England, while fellow Moose Lodge member Tom Jones said the event has a first-time entry from the Ukraine. States from as far away as California and Texas will also be represented.
In addition, a crowd of around 40,000 spectators is expected for the event which runs from Aug. 4-9 in Felts Park.
“We’re expecting about the same as the last two years, but nothing like the crowds of the 80s, 90s and 2000s,” said Hall, who has been involved with the fiddlers’ convention for 49 years. “I’m going to try for one more, then I’m hanging it up.”
The number of entries is also running about the same with 1,681 signed up this year.
“We’re not far off from last year, maybe down a little bit, but nothing to be concerned about,” said Jones.
As usual, the guitar (284), folk song (189) and bluegrass banjo (173) categories have the most entries. Five other categories also have triple-digit entries, bluegrass band (166), mandolin (145), old time fiddle (139), bluegrass fiddle (139) and clawhammer banjo (101).
The music competition cranks up Monday, Aug. 4 at 5:30 p.m. with the fiddlers’ youth competition and continues on Tuesday, Aug. 5 at 6 p.m. with the old time fiddle, dobro and mandolin competitions. On Wednesday, Aug. 6, the bluegrass fiddle, dulcimer and bluegrass banjo competitors take the stage, and on Thursday, Aug. 7 clawhammer banjo, autoharp and guitar players are featured.
Action starts early at noon on Saturday, Aug. 9 with the folk song and flatfoot dance competitions, while at 6 p.m. the competition turns to bluegrass band and old time band. Winners will be announced early Sunday, Aug. 10 when the Moose Lodge will hand out $20,000 in cash prizes, trophies and ribbons.
Tickets prices for Monday through Thursday are $6, Friday is $10 and Saturday is $12. A season ticket can be purchased for $40. Children under 12 and accompanied by an adult get in free.
The camping fee is $80.
Michael Howlett can be contacted at 276-728-7311 or on Twitter@MikeEHowlett