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The 10th Annual Galax Leaf & String Festival to be held Friday and Saturday highlights the best the region has to offer — music, arts and crafts, and literature and a beautified downtown area, said Galax Visitors Center Director Ray Kohl.
What started as a music festival a few years ago has transitioned to showcase a variety of other elements that make the area unique.
Artisans will demonstrate their crafts, people can meet with local and top-selling authors from all over at the book festival in front of Chapters Bookshop on East Grayson Street and festival-goers can listen to bluegrass and old-time music throughout downtown.
There will be a sampling of some of the best music, with more than 20 bands performing throughout the two-day festival.
Vendors will open at 11 a.m. and music starts at noon Friday and 10 a.m. Saturday on Main Street across from Barr’s Fiddle Shop and at the Grayson Street stage. Music will be performed every hour until 7 p.m.
Some musical talents include Loose Strings, Whitetop Mountain Band, Adam McPeak & Mountain Thunder, along with many others.
Something new is added to the festival each year, said Kohl. This year, the Blue Ridge Music Makers Guild will hold free workshops, showcasing and demonstrating different instruments, showing how the instruments relate to bluegrass and old-time and talking about the history of music.
Friday at 8 p.m., the New Ballard Branch Bogtrotters will perform at the historic Rex Theater on Grayson Street. The night is a tribute to Greg Hooven.
A square dance will be held at 9:30 p.m. on Friday at the Grayson Street Stage with Arvil Scott, a well-known square dance caller. This will also teach the basics of square dance.
This makes the sixth year for the Leaf & String book festival on East Grayson Street, featuring more than 40 authors. “Authors on Grayson Street” will be held on Friday from noon to 6 p.m. and on Saturday from 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
The book festival allows readers to meet and mingle with their favorite authors, talk about books and writing, hear the authors’ stories and purchase new books.
Chestnut Creek School of the Arts, located at the corner of Grayson Street, will have a variety of artisans demonstrating and showcasing their skills and talents and promoting upcoming classes.
The festival has extends all the way to Cornerstone Community Church’s parking lot on South Main Street to feature children’s activities, such as pony rides, a mechanical bull, face painting and the Galax Police Department’s armored vehicle.
The Music Maker’s Guild is organizing instrument workshops to provide an added musical experience at the 10th Annual Galax Leaf & String Festival this weekend.
These workshops will be held near the Chestnut School of the Arts on Main Street in downtown Galax.
There will be five workshops, each featuring different instruments. The purpose of the workshops is not only to show off the instruments, but also to answer questions about them, giving background information about how they work and their care, as well as how they are played.
Two of these workshops will be held on Friday:
• Old-time Instruments — 1:45-3 p.m., featuring upright bass, dulcimer and Autoharp. Karen Carr of the Crooked Road Ramblers will show bass fiddle techniques and tell about her instrument. Outstanding player and builder Jeff Sebens will demonstrate the dulcimer. Joann Redd, winner of many local competitions, will share information about the Autoharp and play some tunes.
• Luthiers Workshop — 4-5:15 p.m., focusing on the building of instruments. The guild’s own Glenn Swinney will talk about how he builds his fiddles. Jeff Sebens will tell about his building techniques for dulcimers and other instruments he makes. James Savage will also be there from the guild to talk about his instrument-building experiences.
On Saturday, three workshops will be held:
• Guitar and Dobro — 10-11:15 a.m. Award-winning guitarist Steve Kilby and his wife Penny will demonstrate and answer questions about the guitar. Award winner Billy Bourne will tell about and play the dobro.
• Fiddle and Mandolin — Time TBA. Among the fiddlers in the workshop will be Jimmy Edmonds, a hometown favorite.
• Banjo — Time TBA, featuring players of both old-time and bluegrass styles. Representing the bluegrass style will be Bobby Patterson, Music Maker’s Guild president. The youngest guild member, Stephanie Gibson, will demonstrate the three-finger bluegrass style of playing. To talk about and demonstrate the clawhammer style will be award-winning Brien Fain and youth winner Jared Boyd.
These workshops will be held in a shady tent, with seating close enough to the performers to observe their techniques and ask questions. Listeners are encouraged to bring questions to ask both about the instruments and the music.
For more information, call 238-8130 or see www.visitgalax.com.