The Old Fiddlers’ Convention was originated in the spring of 1935 when a few members of the then New Moose Lodge #733 needed something to raise funds and promote publicity. In a newspaper item at the time it was stated that the Convention was dedicated to “KEEPING ALIVE THE MEMORIES AND SENTIMENTS OF DAYS GONE BY AND MAKE IT POSSIBLE FOR PEOPLE OF TODAY TO HEAR AND ENJOY THE TUNES OF YESTERDAY.” The original purpose is held in the same regard today, and the sponsors feel that in some measures this purpose has been accomplished.
Two conventions were held in 1935 but by the last one that fall the indoor facilities had been outgrown and the convention was moved outdoors to Felts Park and has been held there each year since, except when the weather forced it indoors temporarily. One convention was omitted during World War II, due to limitations on travel.
The Old Fiddlers’ Convention has grown steadily until now, each year people must be notified often that SRO is available in the park and room for camping and parking is filled.
In 1965 a Saturday afternoon program was started to relieve the pressure on Saturday night. In 1967 NBC-TV covered the entire three nights and Saturday afternoon. Today, the Convention begins Monday night with Youth Competition and continues each night through Saturday, with an afternoon performance on Saturday.
Contestants come from distant states and foreign countries, but when they play, the tunes are usually the same that have been heard at the convention down through the years. In the early years, the contestants came chiefly from Carroll, Grayson, and adjoining counties in Virginia and North Carolina. Now band and individual performers come from big cities, the college campuses, and every place where old music is loved and played.
The promoters feel that the ANNUAL OLD FIDDLERS’ CONVENTION is becoming a tradition in country and mountain musical circles and will do their best to continue bringing to you the tunes which have been handed down from generation to generation in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The fact that many of the contestants are youngsters is encouraging and we feel that the future of Old Time and Country Music is secure.