GALAX, Va. – The music makers are back to celebrate at the Galax Old Fiddlers Convention.
Nearly 2,500 folk musicians are playing to their heart’s desire in Felts Park, like Oscar Hall, who said every pick of a string makes him smile.
For 57 years, Hall has helped organize the event that attracts thousands from around the world.
And despite some health challenges he faced last year, 94-year-old Hall did not want to sit still. After a knee replacement, he was ready to come back.
“I just feel like I need to be out here,” Hall said. “Something tells me that. But I’m not old enough to know my days are numbered.”
Three days before the event, people set out their chairs to secure the best seat in the house – up to 800 chairs can fill the venue.
And the convention is a classic, but a few new fresh faces are competing this year.
12-year-old Owen and 13-year-old Ayden live miles apart, but their love for folk music is bringing them together.
“That’s amazing,” Owen said. “I don’t really see banjo players in the Ohio area. I just love this because I get to meet more people and it’s a lot of fun.”
Four years ago was the first time Ayden heard the sound of the banjo in South Carolina, and then, he was hooked.
“One of them picked up the banjo and started playing it and I was like that’s the one,” Ayden said. “I’m playing that one.”
It was a no-brainer for Owen to also slip on some picks and give it a go.
“It’s really interesting music and it needs to be kept,” he said. “It’s great because I’m one of the only people playing it in my area so I can try to encourage others to play the music and learn it.”
“It feels great to see them young kids coming on ‘cause that’s the future,” Hall said.
The youth competition was set to kick off on Monday night, and the convention will wrap up on Friday.