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Old Fiddler's Convention

The Old Fiddler's Convention featured untold numbers of contestents playing bluegrass music
 
The Old Fiddler's Convention featured untold numbers of contestents playing bluegrass music

 

We attended the 73rd Annual Old Fiddler's Convention, sponsored by the Galax Moose Lodge #733. Old-time music is natural in the heart of southern Virginia. From kids through old-timers, it all seemed just as natural to those living in the area as subways and sky scrapers are to New Yorkers, cable cars are to San Franciscans, moose are to Alaskans and Down Easters, or monuments and big government is to those living in the Washington, DC area.

The Old Fiddler's Convention featured untold numbers of contestents playing bluegrass music They played on a stage under a tent - this was the 73rd annual convention, sponsored by the Galax Moose Lodge # 733 We were there for three days and used bracelets to verify payment of admission to re-enter the grounds Hundreds of people sat in lawn chairs arranged in neat rows in semi-circles around the stage Another view of the audience from the grand stand We sat in the grand stand in chairs in the back row - look closely - you can see Vie and Betty There they are. Vie brought chairs on Monday morning and tied them to a post so they would not blow away in case of a storm - nobody moved them - they stayed safely in place This gentelman's perch was quite high This fellow sat in front of us in the grand stand. Notice the marble in the mouth of the animal head of his cane. Nobody can say he's lost his marble. (I took this pic for my brother who carries a marble in his pocket to prove he's not lost his.) A laid-back fellow enjoying his snuff A fellow making his way around the facility It wasn't all listening to music - this guy's enjoying his corn on the cob while walking around SECURITY (he's got a chaw too) More security amid the people Night-time view - notice again the neatly arrayed rows of lawn chairs Snacks and souvenirs were also available These guys sang a song about "I Met My Sweet Heart in the Portajohn Line" Contestents concentrated on their music and didn't worry too much about what they were wearing Bands had to have stringed instruments to qualify. Clothing: whatever they put on that morning. This group was more color coordinated Contestants were allowed 2.5 minutes each, keeping the announcer busy naming the acts appearing Stage hands were casual too We waited until late on Friday night to hear this band - "Special Ed and the Short Bus," a tasteful, politically correct name Special Ed and the Short Bus on stage - notice the flying bow of the fiddler Is this Special Ed, playing the mandolin? Aaron is the fiddler - his hand and bow are flying A candid shot of Aaron before well before he went on stage - enjoying a beer. He told me he didn't think he could play the fiddle before joining the band (he was a violin player), but he got the hang of it. I asked Aaron to pose so he accomodated me. Aaron said they were leaving soon for a tour in Great Britain. It takes a lot to support the convention, including emergency services. The Dugspur emergency squad was on hand. Close up of Dugspur's ambulance Woody provide sound reinforcement To keep things moving, contestents lined up back stage, ready to go Lined-up, ready to go One can see through contestants on stage throught the "door." No one questioned my presence back stage. On Thursday night I noticed large sheets of plywood on the ground, stage left, and wondered what they were for. I found out: they were there for those who were inspired by the music to clog. Cloggers, all dressed-up The convention is held at the fair grounds. Contestents and others lived there all week in their RVs - hundreds of them. A converted school bus . . . 57 years for the owner, 33 years for the bus at the convention Another view of the bus Inside the bus - the owner kindly invited me for a beer (I demurred) In another direction I spied an older bus . . . An antique . . . . . . 1941 Greyhound - these buses passed in front of our house on U.S. Rt. 40 back in Ohio when I was a kid The owner was having trouble with the bus. If you look closely, chains are visible, hanging down, front left and right. The owner indicated that the bus would not run because of clutch problems so he had it towed to the fair grounds for the convention. Accross the street, past the modern RVs, more antiques . . . . . . an Antique Car Museum and Ice Cream Shop! Others on the grounds really strutted their stuff Menu from Richard's Road Kill Eatery Others sold items of interest to musicans from their RVs - fiddles and guitars in this case Nearby a fellow plays the dobro Fancy lights, out door carpet, all the niceties of home. Many folk were jamming for hours on end. It was a lot of fun to roam the grounds, listening to the  jamming. Some were likely practicing too. This group invited a young lady to join them and sing: they were great. This lady was tooling around the gounds on a self-powered, riding, picnic cooler - head lights and all. She gladly stopped and posed. With a pleased expression, she shows off the interior of the two-compartment cooler. The front compartment is for drinks while the motor and battery are housed in the back. I was surprised to see a reference to crabs on the back of the seat. The top reads, "Bite Me;" the bottom, "Baltimore, MD." There's a scantily clad woman on the right; note the trailer hitch. Natty dresser roaming the grounds - he was a member of the more color coordinated band; notice the mandolin under his arm Pretty evening sky with an illuminated cross to the right
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