And if your answer is No…let me tell you…you are missing out!
The Galax Fiddlers’ Convention is widely regarded as the world’s oldest and largest fiddler’s convention. People from across the country and across the world come to the little mountain town of Galax, Virginia during the first full week of August to experience the tradition of bluegrass, country, and old time music. Some compete in one or more of the category competitions throughout the week. But, most are there just to listen and catch up with friends because once you have experienced Galax you can’t help but want to go back.
I am certainly one of those people. A few years ago, I found myself staring in awe at the sprawling sea of people, campers, and instruments that fill Felts Park to the brim every year. Sadly, I must admit that I wasn’t there for the music…I was there for a boy. My now boyfriend and I met a few weeks prior to the convention, but because of several unforeseen circumstances, a trip and now Galax, we had only seen each other that one time. And I was determined to track him down and change that. I completed my mission that day, but something else happened. I fell in love with the Fiddlers’ Convention.
In the years that I have followed, my boyfriend still goes every year just like he always has, but now I come and at least spend a day or two with him and his friends. Like most people, I don’t even watch what is happening on stage because you will quickly find out that the magic happens in the campground. It is old time music paradise. At every turn there is a musician or a band playing, someone dropping a board to flat foot to the music, and small crowds gathering around circles and tents. You never know what you will hear or whom you will meet. And in some cases how you will get involved…
My favorite Galax moment happened the second time I attended the convention. It was getting late in the evening, and we had been walking around for hours. As we were heading back to our camping area, we were struck by, believe it or not, the 90’s alternative rock we had grown up with. First we heard a bluegrass version of The Wallflowers’ 6th Avenue Heartache. And then this band played The Way by Fastball. Without looking at each other or planning a thing, we all started singing. As the song moved along, a crowd had formed watching us more than the musicians. And at the end of the song, as we were applauding the musicians, they were on their feet clapping for us! The band turned out to be the Green Bottle Dawgs from New York. And we spent the rest of the night jamming and listening to them. This is a Galax moment that I will never forget!
Whether you have been coming to Galax for years and years or this is your very first time…I hope to see you there!
To learn more about the Old Fiddlers’ Convention, check out their website or even better just go and experience it for yourself.
Alexandra Veatch is an Admissions Counselor at Emory & Henry College in Emory, VA. She is a native of Central Illinois, who found Roanoke, Virginia to be her gateway to life in SWVA. Alex is slowly finding out that deep down she is a Southwest Virginian through her volunteer work with the SWVA Cultural Heritage Foundation.
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