GALAX, Va. (WFXR) — The 86th annual Old Fiddlers’ Convention — known as one of the oldest and largest fiddlers’ conventions in the world — is underway in Galax, featuring a plethora of performances throughout the week.

Hundreds of people have been camping out at Felts Park this week, including some band members, who say the Old Fiddlers’ Convention is like Christmas for them because they’ve been looking forward to it all year.

“It’s like a family reunion, you get to come back and see a lot of people you only get to see once a year from all parts of the world,” Johnny Johnson, a mandolin guitar player from Collinsville, told WFXR News.

Johnson says he and the Snow Valley Boys haven’t seen each other since last year. The band is set to compete this week against hundreds of others in the Bluegrass competition.

(Photo: Amanda Lee/WFXR News)

The guitar player and singer for the band, Stephen Gordon, says this is his 44th year at the convention.

“The original band was one of my brothers in law, and he and I started this trip thing,” Gordon said. “Then my brother joined us, and then we met other people and it just sort of grew.”

(Photo: Amanda Lee/WFXR News)

According to the president of the Galax Moose Lodge, Randy Caudille, “We bring a lot of enthusiasm here. It’s good to see the traditional music stay alive and we try to keep it alive here in Galax.”

The various competitions at the Old Fiddlers’ Convention offer trophies, ribbons, and a total of $20,000 in cash prizes, but for many participants, just being there is its own reward.

“I have friends here that I’ve known for 40 years or more, that I see once a year, but when we leave, we’re planning to come back and we pick up right where we left off,” said Gordon.

Caudille says there’s well over 500 individual contenders and about 150 bands participating in the Old Fiddlers’ Convention, which runs through Saturday, Aug. 13. The schedule of the remaining contests is included below:

  • Wednesday, Aug. 10 at 6 p.m.: Bluegrass fiddle, dulcimer, and Bluegrass banjo competitions
  • Thursday, Aug. 11 at 6 p.m.: Clawhammer banjo, autoharp, and guitar competitions
  • Friday, Aug. 12 at 6 p.m.: Old-time band and Bluegrass band competitions
  • Saturday, Aug. 13 at noon: Folk song and flatfoot dance competitions
  • Saturday, Aug. 13 at 6 p.m.: Bluegrass band and old-time band competitions

For more information about the annual event, visit the Old Fiddlers’ Convention website.