Don't be surprised if you hear the sweet strains of fiddle or the lively licks of some mean guitar pickin' while you are in Galax. Folks around here take pride in Galax's place in the world of traditional mountain music.
Galax: At the Center of it All.With a concentration of musicians and instrument makersthat dates back to the 18th century, the Galax / Mount Airy area is credited with producing more traditional stringed band performers than any other region in the United States. Galax, itself, is also known for the Old Fiddlers Convention held every year in Felts Park.
The Old Fiddlers' Convention—from a Successful Start...The Old Fiddlers' Convention was started in April, 1935 as a one-time fundraising event for the local Moose Lodge. String band performers appeared in the Galax High School auditorium. The first event was so successful that a two-night program was planned for the following October. At that event, 146 participants competed for a silver loving cup and $110 in prize money provided by 67 local businesses. Over 1,000 people attended the program, which included histories of the various instruments and a presentation on the sponsoring businesses.
...to Continued Growth...Since the successes of that first year, the Old Fiddlers Convention hasn't stopped growing. In 1936, contestants represented four states, and the curator of Folk Museum fromLibrary of Congress recorded the program. An overflowin 1938 forced organizers to move the program outdoors. In1967, NBC-TV covered the entire event. By 1974,attendance reached 30,000. Today, individual contestantsand bands from around the world compete for tens ofthousands of dollars in prize money in the areas of autoharp,bluegrass and clawhammer banjo, bluegrass fiddle, dobro,dulcimer, flatfoot dancing, folk song, guitar,mandolin and old time fiddle. More importantthat the competition itself, however, is thecommunal gathering throughout the groundswhere people play together informally and share their love of music. The Old Fiddlers Convention in Galax is an annual event that continues to promote the preservation, evolution, and appreciation of the area's unique mountain music culture.