By Nathan Ham
For half a century, Ashe County residents and visitors to the area have enjoyed a weekend full of traditional bluegrass tunes and dancing in Jefferson. This year will mark the 50th year of the Ashe County Bluegrass & Old Time Fiddlers Convention, sponsored by the Ashe County Arts Council.
The fiddlers’ convention began in 1971 and was originally sponsored by the Rotary Club of The Jeffersons. The Rotarians decided to take a step back in recent years and the Ashe County Arts Council stepped up to help organize the annual event. All funds raised at the fiddlers’ convention will go to support the Ashe County Arts Council’s Junior Appalachian Musicians Program.
Convention-goers interested in camping for the weekend can enter the campground area at 4 p.m. on Wednesday. Events will get underway on Thursday with the Bluegrass Jamming Camp with Gilbert Nelson from 3-7 p.m. and again on Friday from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. Registration is required to jam. You can register by calling 336-846-2787.
On Friday evening, the annual Appalachian Barn Dance will fire up at 7 p.m. at the Lakeview Shelter. Admission for the dance is $5 and all levels of skilled dancers are welcome to join up. Trish Kilby Fore & the Dixie Wildcats Band will be playing the dancing tunes.
The main event will be on Saturday with the competitions beginning at noon. Gates will open at 10 a.m. with a special live broadcast of the Blue Grass & Old Time Radio Show with Gary Poe at 11 a.m. on WKSK 580 AM and 93.5 FM.
The first competition will be the youth individual and youth band competitions from noon until 2 p.m. The adult individual competitions will happen from 2-6 p.m. with dance competitions to follow from 6-7 p.m.
The youth awards will be given out at 7 p.m. to take a brief break from music until the adult band competition closes out the evening starting at 7:30 p.m. Adult award presentations for individual and band competitions will be presented after the band competition ends.
A total of $4,350 in prize money will be awarded to competition winners.
In addition to the music, food, and fun at the fiddlers’ convention, there will be a special craft village set up from 11 a.m. until 6 p.m. on Saturday featuring hands-on demonstrations, children’s art activities and lots of unique arts and crafts available for purchase.
Camping spots are $10 per night with no electricity and $15 a night for electricity hookups (limited availability).
Tickets for the convention are available in advance by calling the Ashe Arts Center at 336-846-2787 or at the gate payable by cash and check only.
Tickets are $5 for Friday, $10 for Saturday or $15 for a weekend pass. Children 12 and under are free with a paying adult.
Park gates close at midnight. No alcohol or open-carry firearms will be allowed inside the park. Pets also must be on a leash.
For more information, visit the Ashe County Bluegrass & Old Time Fiddler’s Convention website.