Fries Fiddlers’ Convention rises from the ashes

Wonderful news today from Fries, VA (pronounced freeze) about the long-running fiddlers’ convention held in the town starting in 1965. It had been a major stop for bluegrass and old time players in the mid Atlantic region since that time, though its demise was announced late last year by the Fries Volunteer Fire Department, who had sponsored the event as a fundraiser for 56 years.

The town and local leaders have formed a new organization, the Fries Musical Heritage Committee, who will manage the convention going forward. The first Fries Fiddlers’ Convention under this new management will be held August 16-17 this year, the weekend following the Old Fiddlers’ Convention in Galax.

Fries Tourism Director Kevin Combs says that once local musicians and business leaders started meeting in an attempt to see the fiddlers’ convention continue, it quickly became clear how much this music means to the region.

“Fries is integral to the history of American music. If Bristol is the birthplace of country music, Fries is where it was conceived.

Music is alive and well in Fries. We will not only continue the Fries Fiddlers’ Convention this summer, we will also have a five-concert series at The Depot, weekly jam sessions at The Historic Fries Theatre, and dances at the theatre on selected Friday nights throughout the year.”

Combs also indicated that the Committee felt strongly that the event should return to its long time spot following Galax after the Fire Department had experimented with other dates.

“The fiddlers’ convention was always held the weekend after Galax. With the return to the traditional date, we expect that the musical community will respond and rediscover the Fries Fiddlers’ Convention as a great place to end the fiddlers’ convention season.”

The 2024 Fries Fiddlers’ Convention will be held August 16-17 at the Fries Ball Park. They have not yet set up a web site or Facebook page for the convention, but ask all interested pickers, singers, dancers, and fans to go ahead and pencil in the date and plan on visiting them in Fries this summer.

The Fries Musical Heritage Committee is still working on plans to use proceeds from the convention and the various concerts in town, perhaps funding a scholarship for young musicians in the region. Look for more announcements in the coming months.

Well done Fries!

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.