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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Galax, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Galax: Home of Traditional Mountain Music

 
 
Galax: Home of Traditional Mountain Music Marker image. Click for full size.
By J. J. Prats, May 26, 2013
1. Galax: Home of Traditional Mountain Music Marker
Inscription. 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 makers that 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.
Galax’ Farmers’ Marker Pavilion and Marker image. Click for full size.
By J. J. Prats, May 26, 2013
2. Galax’ Farmers’ Marker Pavilion and Marker
In 1936, contestants represented four states, and the curator of Folk Museum from Library of Congress recorded the program. An overflow in 1938 forced organizers to move the program outdoors. In 1967, NBC-TV covered the entire event. By 1974, attendance reached 30,000. Today, individual contestants and bands from around the world compete for tens of thousands 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 important that the competition itself, however, is the communal gathering throughout the grounds where 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.
 
Location. 36° 39.815′ N, 80° 55.522′ W. Marker is in Galax, Virginia. Marker is at the intersection of North Main Street (Virginia Route 89) and East Washington Street, on the right when traveling south on North Main Street. Touch for map. It is at the Galsx Farmer’s Market. Marker is in this post office area: Galax VA 24333, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 8 miles of this marker, measured as the crow
The Crooked Road Music Trail—Virginia’s Heritage image. Click for full size.
By J. J. Prats, May 26, 2013
3. The Crooked Road Music Trail—Virginia’s Heritage
These signs trace mountain music history throughout towns counties of southwestern Virginia.
flies. The Railroad: Lifeline to the World (approx. 0.2 miles away); Galax (approx. 0.3 miles away); a different marker also named Galax (approx. 0.4 miles away); First County Seat (approx. 2 miles away); “New River Train” Song (approx. 4.8 miles away); Fries (approx. 4.8 miles away); a different marker also named Fries (approx. 4.9 miles away); First Court of Grayson County (approx. 7.9 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Galax.
 
More about this marker. Marker shows “black and white photographs from ‘The First Forty Years of the Old Fiddlers’ Convention, Galax, Virginia, by Herman K Williams.” and a color photograph of a recent convention. A facimile of a posted bill for the 64th annual Old Fiddler’s Convention to be held August 10-14, 1999, promising $20,000.00 in cash prizes, trophies and ribbons is shown at the bottom of the marker.
 
Also see . . .  2007 Richmond Times Dispatch Video. Two minute video by Dean Hoffmeyer. (Submitted on June 2, 2013.) 
 
Categories. Arts, Letters, Music
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on April 16, 2017. This page originally submitted on June 2, 2013, by J. J. Prats of Springfield, Virginia. This page has been viewed 438 times since then and 23 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on June 2, 2013, by J. J. Prats of Springfield, Virginia.
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