Fiddlers’ Conventions and Music Camps in Appalachia


Fiddlers’ conventions have been an important gathering place for traditional old-time musicians since 1736. These events feature instrumental and dance contests, informal jam sessions, and concerts by well known performers. Participants typically camp on the festival grounds, and there is often a strong reunion atmosphere, as the participants often see each other and play together only a few times a year. Music camps also have a feeling of reunion but offer a more formal music education experience. They exist in a variety of styles from classical to jazz to old-time and offer formal instruction in addition to informal jamming opportunities. This pathfinder focuses on fiddlers’ conventions and music camps that concentrate on the music of the southern Appalachian region.

Introductory Text: 

Goertzen, Chris. Southern Fiddlers and Fiddle Contests. Jackson, MS: University Press of Mississippi, 2008. ASU APP COLL ML3551.7.S68 G64 2008

Senyak, Zhenya Gene. Banjo Camp!: Learning, Picking & Jamming with Bluegrass and Old-time Greats. New York, NY: Lark Books, 2008. ASU APP COLL ML1015B.3 S46 2008

Library of Congress Subject Headings: 
  • Old Time and Bluegrass Fiddlers Convention 2nd Marion Va
  • Old Time Fiddlers and Bluegrass Convention Marion Va
  • Old Time Fiddler’s Convention Union Grove, N.C
  • Appalachian String Band Music Festival Clifftop West Virginia
  • Old Fiddlers’ Convention Periodicals
  • Old Fiddlers’ Convention
  • Old Time Fiddlers Association
  • Banjo Methods
  • Bluegrass Music Instruction and Study
  • Festivals Kentucky Folk
  • Festivals North Carolina Folk
  • Festivals Appalachian Region Southern
  • Folk Festivals
  • Folk Dance Music Virginia
  • Old Time Music
Clipping Files Subject Headings – W. L. Eury Appalachian Collection: 
  • Fiddlers’ Conventions and Music Festivals
  • Fairs and Festivals
  • Folk Schools
  • Music Fiddles
  • Music Appalachia
Library of Congress Call Numbers: 
  • ML 3551
  • ML 38
  • ML 385
  • ML 1015
  • M 1629
  • ML 355
  • F 217

Ahrans, Pat J. Union Grove: The First Fifty Years. Columbia, SC: Ahrens, 1975. ASU APP COLL ML38.U6 04

Williams, Herman K. The First Forty Years of the Old Fiddlers’ Convention: Galax, Virginia. Galax, VA: s.n., 1970. ASU APP COLL ML38.G27 O44 1970

Whisnant, David E. All that is Native and Fine: The Politics of Culture in an American Region. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1983. ASU APP COLL F217.A65 W47 1983

Wilson, Joe. A Guide to the Crooked Road: Virginia’s Heritage Music Trail. Winston-Salem, NC: John F. Blair, 2006. ASU APP COLL ML3551.7.V8 W5 2006

Guides, Encyclopedias, and Dictionaries: 

Daniel , Wayne W. “Contests and Conventions.” The Encyclopedia of Appalachia. Rudy Abramson and Jean Haskell, ed. Knoxville, TN: The University of Tennessee Press, p.1138, 2006. ASU APP COLL F106.E53

Orr, Jay. “Fiddle and Fiddlers’ Conventions.” Encyclopedia of Southern Culture. Charles Wilson Reagan and William Ferris, ed.Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press, p. 1056-1057, 1989. ASU APP COLL OVSZ F209.E53 1989

Abstracts and Indices: 



International Index to Music Periodicals

American History and Life


Old-time Herald. Galax, VA: Old-time Music Group, Bi-monthly 1987-present. ASU APP COLL ML1 .O35

American Music. Champaign, IL: Sonneck Society and the University of Illinois Press, Quarterly 1983-present. ASU MUSIC JRNL/BND v. 1-v. 23

John Edwards Memorial Foundation Quarterly. Los Angeles, CA: John Edwards Memorial Foundation, Quarterly 1972-present. ASU APP COLL ML1 .J55

The Journal of American Folklore
. New York, NY: Published for the American Folk-lore Society by Houghton, Mifflin, and Co., Quarterly 1888-present. ASU PERIODICALS

Bluegrass Unlimited. Broad Run, VA: Monthly 1967-present. ASU APP COLL ML1 .B68


Compiled by: 

Compiler: Jesse Edgerton, 1 December 2009