Yadkinville will be filled with the sounds of banjos, guitars and fiddles this weekend.
The 27th annual Yadkin Valley Bluegrass Convention will return to Yadkinville Elementary School on April 20 and 21.
This year will mark the first year that the convention will last more than two days. Friday night will feature a performance by Bobby Osborne and the Rocky Top Express.
“Some of the younger generation may not recognize his name, but they have likely heard his voice in the wildly popular hit ‘Rocky Top,’” said Robert Steelman, event director.
On Saturday, performers will compete in various categories.
The contests include bluegrass bands and old-time bands. The inclusion of the old-time band category is new this year.
“When we started 27 years ago, the Jaycees were on a shoestring budget,” Steelman said. “We couldn’t afford to give out a lot of prize money and at the time bluegrass seemed more popular in our area. We’ve had several folks asking about an old-time category in recent years so we decided to take the plunge.”
There will also be individual categories for bluegrass fiddle, old-time fiddle, bluegrass banjo, old-time banjo, mandolin, guitar, acoustic bass, dobro, dulcimer and vocal. This is also new to the convention.
Steelman said that changes have been made this year to the way judging takes place.
“In the past, if you were part of a band, you were judged during the band’s performance,” Steelman said. “This year … all individuals will have the judge’s undivided attention. A lot of the other events are doing it this way and it seems to be a more fair way of doing it.
Steelman said that convention is an important part of Yadkin County because the music is so closely tied to Yadkin County history.
“Our area has a rich history of traditional music,” Steelman said. “The biggest [convention] in our county was East Bend’s convention, and then it went under and left a void that needed to be filled.”
Steelman says that the turnout varies from year to year based on gas prices and the economy. He says that the convention sees people from Virginia, Tennessee and South Carolina.
“Most of these people would likely have never heard of Yadkinville,” Steelman said. “[The convention] is also a positive boost to the local economy—restaurants, gas stations and hotels pick up extra business.”
Steelman said that not only can audience members see performances on the stage but they can walk throughout the halls and outside and take in several jam sessions.
“You’ll see and hear lots of picking both on stage and off,” Steelman said. “People are welcomed to participate in jam sessions whether they compete or not.”
Steelman says that he would like to see the convention continue to grow in the future. One of his goals is to be able to offer workshops one day.
The event will take place in the Yadkinville Elementary School auditorium at 7 p.m. on Friday and starting at noon on Saturday.
Admission for Friday night will be $15 per adult and Saturday’s admission is $10. Admission for both days can be purchased for $20. Children under 10 are admitted free.
Reach Lindsay Craven at 679-2341 or at email@example.com.