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A couple shares a moment while waiting for food at the Old Fiddler’s Convention in 2015. The world’s oldest and largest fiddlers’ convention, it’s one of the major venues on The Crooked Road.

If you love old-time and bluegrass instrumental fireworks, you’ve gotta go to Galax. Folks from across the country, over the mountains and down the street will gather at Felts Park for the 84th Old Fiddlers Convention.

It’s a place where talented pickers of all ages compete for cash prizes to see who is the best instrumentalist, who brings the best band, who wrote the best song, who did the best dance and more. Last year, Floyd’s Aila Wildman took the top prize for old-time fiddle, and she also won Best All Around Performer. Her brother, Eli Wildman, won the mandolin contest, beating a real ringer, Michael Cleveland.

Of course, it wouldn’t have been fair for Cleveland to compete on fiddle. He could win a world convention on that instrument.

See and hear performers vie in nine instrumental categories (nine more, counting the youth competition), along with dance, bluegrass band, old-time band and folk song contests.

That said, longtime conventioneers will tell you the most fun happens after hours, in the campsites, where people pick and sing deep into the morning.

For the past decade, Tad Dickens has been writing about music. For now, it remains sunshine and rainbows.

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