The 83rd Annual Fiddler’s Convention is being held August 6 – 11, 2018 in Galax, VA.
During the 2nd week of August of each year the City of Galax has the world tapping its feet as the Old Fiddlers’ Convention takes place in Felts Park. The convention is presented by the Galax Moose Lodge #733.
Musicians and fans from around the world travel to Galax to perform and hear the music that defines the sound of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Galax has been designated the Worlds Capital of Old time Mountain Music and is proud to be identified as hosting the worlds oldest and largest fiddlers convention which has taken place consistently since 1935.
Thousands of people go hog wild for a taste of authentic barbecue and a chance to see a professional cooking competition up close at Smoke on the Mountain each year in Galax, VA. This competition, held every third weekend in July, is Virginia’s official state barbecue championship. The streets of downtown Galax are packed with people and the air is filled with fragrant clouds of hickory smoke and the tangy bite of vinegar with mustard, mingling with sweetness of tomato and the mouth-watering sizzle of slow cooked pork.
Smoke on the Mountain promises all that, plus live music, crafters, vendors, children’s activities and other attractions on several blocks of historic downtown Galax.
DJ Kevin Edwards of Crashing Waves Entertainment – Friday, July 20th, 4:00 PM – 7:00 PM
Will Jones Band – Friday, July 20th, 8:00 PM
Blue Grass Bands in front of Barr’s Fiddles Shop – Friday & Saturday, 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM
Located at milepost 213 on the Blue Ridge Parkway near Galax, Virginia, The Blue Ridge Music Center is a music venue, museum, and visitor center. The center honors the music and musicians of the Blue Ridge Mountains through concerts, exhibits, and programs that highlight the musical heritage of the Blue Ridge Mountains region. The center was planned when the town of Galax donated 1,000 acres for its development. The center has a state-of-the-art amphitheater and a 17,000-square-foot museum. It was officially established by Congress in 1985. The site is operated through a partnership between the National Park Service and Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation.
The Blue Ridge Music Center hosts concerts each summer on Saturdays at its outdoor amphitheater from May through October. The concerts include old-time, bluegrass, folk, Americana, gospel, and country blues performances. Free Midday Mountain Music acoustic sessions featuring local musicians are offered from noon to 4 p.m. daily. The 2018 summer schedule can be viewed here. http://www.blueridgemusiccenter.org/concerts.htm
The Steep Canyon Rangers, performing on July 14th, is an American bluegrass band from Brevard, North Carolina which formed in 2000. The band has become widely popular since 2009 for collaborating with actor/banjoist Steve Martin. In 2013, the Steep Canyon Rangers’ solo album Nobody Knows You won the Grammy Award for Best Bluegrass Album.
The Roots of American Music exhibit tells the compelling story of the region’s rich music heritage. Visitors can listen to and enjoy music while learning about the development and national significance of this part of Blue Ridge Mountain cultural heritage. This is a state of the art museum exhibit and brings visitors from around the world. Admission to the museum is free.
If you would like to stretch your legs during your visit to the Music Center, two trails are located on the property. The 1.35 mile High Meadow Trail, an easy stroll, takes you through a hayfield and a wetland with an abundance of wildflowers and birds. It also winds through a forest with a rich display of rhododendron, ferns and rock outcrops. The Fisher Peak Loop is a 2.24 moderate loop. Begin this trail at one of its junctions with the High Meadow Trail. The trail winds up the side of Fisher Peak through a variety of vegetation. At the lower elevation the trail follows a stream through mixed pine and hardwoods. Higher up, the blooms of azaleas, mountain laurel and Catawba rhododendron provide a spectacular display in May. They give way to a diverse second growth forest of oak, poplar, maple and sourwood trees. Look for abundant signs of animal life—woodpecker holes, deer tracks, and turkey dust baths.
Trailhead parking is located on Foothills Road (State Route 612). Follow signs to the Music Center, then turn right onto Foothills Road just before passing through the Music Center gates. Continue 0.5 miles to the parking area. The gates to the Music Center are locked at 5 p.m. so you’re not allowed to leave vehicles in the visitor center parking area later than 5 p.m. It is recommended that hikers park at the trailhead parking area on Foothills Road. The trails are for hiking only. Bicycles, horses and motorized vehicles are prohibited.
If you’re searching for the perfect summer camp for your child that will inspire their curiosity while they’re immersed in a beautiful nature setting, you’ll want to check out the Blue Ridge Discovery Center. Founded in 2008, BRDC, is a non-profit organization dedicated to exploring, discovering and sharing the natural history of the Blue Ridge Mountains. BRDC currently operates out of Southwest Virginia and Northwest North Carolina. Summer camps are led by highly skilled guides who focus on teaching skills through river expeditions, fly fishing, wilderness discoveries, and ornithology. Please visit their website: http://blueridgediscoverycenter.org/ for a complete list of the 2018 summer camps.
Winding its way through the heart of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, The Blue Ridge Parkway offers visitors breathtaking views. The Blue Ridge Mountains, famous for their bluish color when seen from a distance, are a nature photographer’s paradise. Mabry Mill, located at mile 176.1, is one of the most photographed spots on the parkway.
Grayson Highlands State Park
Located in the Jefferson National Forest and near the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area, Grayson Highlands State Park offers stunning mountain views and many hiking trails to explore. The park’s most popular residents, a heard of wild ponies, provide plenty of photo opportunities.
The New River, which is actually an ancient river, flows generally northeastward across the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. Whether you choose to bike or hike the New River Trail or spend a lazy day boating on the New, you’ll find yourself surrounded by magnificent scenery. During a float trip a few years ago, I was lucky enough to capture a photo of a black bear club splashing in the river. The historic dam in Fries, Virginia, built in 1901, provides a beautiful backdrop when the red buds are in bloom in the early spring.
The Claw of the Dragon, which loops through the Blue Ridge Mountains of Southwest Virginia, is quickly becoming one of the most sought-after destinations in the south for motorcycle riders. The scenic 350 mile trail with its tight turns appeals to sport bike riders and touring enthusiasts alike. Accessible from interstates 77 and 81 as a starting point, the drive winds through parts of seven Virginia counties. From the trail’s hub, Wytheville, Virginia, it ventures over to the community of Marion to the west and Galax to the east.
Riders will want to allow adequate time to delight in the journey and stop along many interesting and authentic attractions along the way. After traveling through a heart stopping section of the ride that follows Virginia Route 16, the two-lane road which crosses three mountains between Tazewell and Marion called Back of the Dragon, riders will be ready to stretch their legs and explore the charming town of Marion. The General Francis Marion Hotel is a favorite of riders with its restaurant called The Black Rooster and a bar with 27 beer taps.
Next, continue on to the Wytheville area, where interstates 77 & 81 converge. Riders will enjoy a challenging ride up Big Walker Mountain. As the 16-mile scenic byway makes its way to the top, the rider will be in awe of the breathtaking natural beauty during any seasons. At the top, take a rest at Big Walker Lookout, climb the 100 foot tower, and enjoy a snack in the country store.
The final anchor community for The Claw of the Dragon is Galax, VA, famous for the Galax Old Fiddler’s Convention, which is held during the second week of August each year. For a “barbecue fix” riders must stop by The Galax Smokehouse, a local institution since 2003. Their barbecue is the best around and they also sponsor the annual “Smoke On The Mountain, Virginia State Barbecue Championship” which is held in downtown Galax each July.
For additional information about The Claw of the Dragon and all of the interesting things you can see and do as you ride, please visit www.ClawoftheDragon.com.
HoustonFest is a music festival held yearly in Galax VA in honor of a local talented musician, Houston Caldwell, who passed away in 2010. With multiple regional and national bands that range in style from Bluegrass to Old Time playing on only three stages, Houstonfest packs a lot of entertainment into a weekend. Artisans from Galax and the surrounding area demonstrate and sell their crafts, while food vendors serve up local dishes. The festival raises money for scholarships that go to musical training and education for youth.
This year’s lineup includes a multitude of talented performers. One of my favorites, thirteen year old Presley Barker of ShadowGrass, has been playing acoustic guitar for six years and has emerged as an astonishingly gifted flat-picker. Growing up in the mountains of North Carolina and listening to Doc Watson on the radio inspired Presley to begin picking fiddle tunes and bluegrass music.
Chateau Morrisette is a third generation winery in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains. During their Wine & Chocolate Saturday being held on February 10th from 12 – 2 pm or 4 – 6 pm, you can indulge in five courses of their select wines paired with chocolates handcrafted by their culinary team and regional chocolatiers. Chateau Morrisette’s winemaker, Brian Smythe, will interpret the pairings. Course interludes of artisanal cheeses and charcuterie let you explore both sweet and savory pairings.
Advance reservations and pre-payment required. $48 per person includes wines, pairings, taxes, and gratuities. Event is held in the William Morrisette Room, above the Tasting Room. Guests should plan to check in at least 15 minutes early.
Three of the most highly sought after destinations for anglers from all over the country can be found in the Blue Ridge Highlands of Virginia. Whether you’re looking to catch some wild trout or you’ve got your sights on hooking a trophy, you won’t be disappointed with our favorite fishing spots!
1) The New River
Contrary to its name, The New River is the oldest river on the North American continent and one of the few rivers to flow northward. The New is home to every major freshwater game fish in the state of VA, from walleye to trophy smallmouth bass and musky, black crappie and redbreast sunfish. The warm waters of the New River flow through Grayson County and offers resourceful anglers the opportunity to catch the smallmouth bass of a lifetime. Fast water and large rock outcroppings are a feature of the New River, creating the perfect habitat for big smallmouth bass and flathead catfish. Several lazy, slow stretches also abound, where you can fish for rock bass near grass beds. The slow waters near the dams along the river will yield big flathead and channel catfish, as well as walleye and smallmouth bass.
2) Big Wilson Creek
Accessible by way of the Mount Rogers Recreation Area in Grayson County, Big Wilson Creek is referred to as one of Virginia’s finest stocked mountain trout streams. In the upper most sections of Big Wilson, you’ll be treated to a plethora of brook, brown, and wild rainbow trout that hide in the many deep pools which are protected by huge boulders. Spring is the ideal season for a trip to Big Wilson Creek. March is one of the best months to fish this stream and the most effective method is dry fishing.
The park is on U.S. 58 midway between Independence and Damascus and is reached from I-81 at Exit 45 in Marion; turn south on Route 16 and travel 33 miles to US 58 in the community of Volney. Turn right onto US 58. Travel eight miles to the park’s entrance.
3) Whitetop Laurel Creek
One of Virginia’s most beautiful streams, Whitetop Laurel Creek, is considered one of the best trout streams in the entire Southeast. For anglers, the place to begin on Whitetop is the 6 miles of stream below Konnarock beginning at Creek Junction, near the convergence of Whitetop and Green Cove Creek. This marks the beginning of a 6-mile artificial only stretch where all trout smaller than 12 inches must be released. This stretch can be accessed by way of Creek Junction Road, just east of Damascus. Locals say that prime time on Whitetop is during the spring months, when feeding trout will appear for just about any type of dry fly.
From I-81 south take exit 29 (Glade Spring) to 91 east towards Damascus, in Damascus take 58 east. Whitetop Laurel flows along 58 east, where it can be accessed easily. Signs to the parking areas and the Virginia Creeper Trail are along 58 east. Sections of Whitetop Laurel Creek that are not adjacent to 58 east are easily accessed from the Virginia Creeper Trail. Parking areas have maps and trail information on display.