Why is this small Southwest Virginia city proclaimed the “World Capital of Old-Time Music”? Perhaps, it is the fact that generations have insured this important part of their Appalachian heritage is handed down from old to young.
Old Fiddler’s Convention
Since 1935, Galax has been the home to the Old Fiddler’s Convention, one of the most prominent traditional music contests in the United States. Each August, hundreds come to play in Felts Park, and thousands come to listen. Musicians as old as the convention itself or barely old enough to hold an instrument sit side-by-side and play and sing and learn. The number of steps made by those who get up and flatfoot or tap their feet along with the melodies would surely circumference the globe. This year’s 80th anniversary on Aug. 3-8, 2015 will be as rich in tradition as it was the very first year.
Music is not the only thing that makes a trip to Galax worth the drive, there are an abundance of events throughout the spring and summer for relaxing family-friendly activities.
Held the first Friday and Saturday each May (May 1-2, 2015), HoustonFest honors the legacy of one young man, Houston Caldwell, who had a passion for the growth of musical heritage and a commitment to community service. This year’s schedule of performers includes Marty Stuart, Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver, Steep Canyon Rangers, Larry Cordle and Lonesome Standard Time, The Chuck Wagon Gang, The Church Sisters, and many more. The music is the best and brightest of the time. The proceeds give back by benefiting a local fire department.
Galax Leaf and String Festival
Showcasing all types of the creative culture, the Leaf and String Festival gives a glimpse into a diversity of local and regional talent. Held on June 13 and 14 this year, the downtown area will be full of music, artisans and food vendors. Following each afternoon of outdoor music, the event moves into the Historic Rex Theater to continue the nightly entertainment.
Smoke on the Mountain
There’s only one word to sum up the special event held in July — delicious. Authentic southern barbecue with “altitude” fills the streets of the downtown on the third weekend of July (17-18). The competition is the official Virginia state barbecue championship. Teams of the best barbecue competitors from across the country vie for the bragging rights that winning this event brings including a spot in The Memphis BBQ Network World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest. For spectators, it’s a chance to sample some of the best food of the South while enjoying the festival atmosphere that includes music, crafts and children’s activities.
Trail on Tracks
Less than a mile from the center of downtown Galax, visitors can access the 57-mile New River Trail (NRT). Part of a state park by the same name, NRT follows an abandoned railroad right-of-way. A variety of recreational opportunities are available from hiking and biking to horseback riding and camping. The waters of the New River provide premiere fishing and boating experiences. Contrary to its name, the New River is believed to be the second oldest river in the world and one of the few that flows north. It parallels 39 miles of the NRT.
Nearby, Matthew State Forest offers recreational activities on a 566 acre area. Hiking and biking trails afford challenge and beauty. The Matthews Living History Farm showcases agricultural like in the early 1900s through demonstrations, workshops, special events and environmental education.
Conveniently located to the activities already mentioned, the area also includes several nine and 18 hole golf courses with breathtaking views of the beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Resort locations nearby offer a full service golfing experience.