Come to Alleghany County Fiddler’s Convention for Competitions, Music and More on July 20 & 21

Published Tuesday, July 17, 2018 at 2:58 pm

By Hailey Blevins

Each year, the Sparta-Alleghany Volunteer Fire Department hosts the Alleghany County Fiddler’s Convention. The 2018 Fiddler’s Convention is set to be held at the Alleghany Fairgrounds, 1585 U.S. 21 North in Sparta.

The Fiddler’s Convention will begin on Friday, July 20 at 5 p.m. and continue on Saturday at 11 a.m. On Saturday night, there will be a band championship playoff. Admission to the convention is $10 for one or both nights, and admission is free for children 12 and under. This year, there will be new additions to the categories.

In addition to competitions for vocalists and musicians, the Fiddler’s Convention will also feature vendors, 50-50 drawings, cloggers, a dance contest and a songwriter circle jam on Thursday (free). There will be a covered grandstand, as well as lawn chair seating.

The songwriter circle jam will take place on Thursday, July 19 at 4 p.m. at the picnic shelter. Everyone is invited to chat, collaborate and perform their original songs.

History behind the Alleghany County Fiddler’s Convention

The grandstage was uncovered for the first few years until enough money was raised to build a covered grandstage.

There is a longstanding tradition of fiddler’s conventions in the Blue Ridge Mountains dating back to around the 1930s. The Alleghany County Fiddler’s Convention began in 1995. When it began, the goal was to raise money for the new nonprofit fairgrounds that are now the site for family events all year. The first convention was held on July 21 and 22, 1995 after months of preparations.

 

In the dance competition, dancers can dance in one of three styles: flatfooting, clogging and buck dancing.

This convention was immediately different from others in the area. From the start, this convention made is easy for musicians to participate in the convention. To do this, individuals and bands can compete at any time on Friday night and Saturday during the day while Saturday night is reserved solely for a band playoff.

Over the next few years, the convention grew, adding more categories, opening the convention up to younger musicians and dancers and gaining more of an audience. The money raised in the convention’s early years helped pay for bathrooms, bleachers, a grandstand cover, electric and water hookups in the camping area and other amenities.

Eventually, the event was turned over to the Sparta-Alleghany Volunteer Fire Department. Some of the proceeds from the Fiddler’s Convention go toward the continuation of improvements and maintenance at the fairgrounds. Proceeds in the past have helped pay for new firefighting equipment for the fire department.

Many come to take part in the friendly competition or to show and hone their skills while others come for the scene. In the contests, judges who are musicians themselves score bands and individual musicians competing for cash prizes and ribbons.

Along with the musicians competing, dancers also compete for ribbons in three styles that aren’t judged separately: flatfooting, clogging and buck dancing.

Many join the competition for the prizes, but everyone joins them to show off or hone their skills and have a good time.

New Additions in 2018

This year, the Alleghany County Fiddler’s Convention will include a few more categories than in previous years in addition to the regular band and individual categories. Along with this increase, there has also been a boost in prize money for individual winners in Junior and Senior categories. $4,110 in cash prizes will be awarded.

This year’s new additions include old time fiddle and banjo duet, bluegrass fiddle and banjo duet, and vocal duet. These new categories are open to contestants of all ages.

For more information, email savfd@skybest.com, call 336-372-4957 or visit www.alleghanyfiddlersconvention.com.

 

 

 

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