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Registration for the Galax Old Fiddlers’ Convention has decreased for the second time in five years, and the second year in a row.
Contestants dropped from 1,909 last year to 1,833 for the contest that begins today, Monday. Last year, registration dropped from 2,004 contestants in 2010, the event's 75th anniversary.
The registration figures were released by the Galax Moose Lodge #733, organizers of the 77-year-old event.
The slight slump isn't any cause for alarm for the Moose officials, who say that registration numbers never reflect actual attendance. Because musicians must be pre-registered to perform, they often send in a registration form before making actual plans to attend.
Performer registration also has little to do with how many fans come to Galax for the event. Attendance over the week is estimated at 35,000 to 40,000.
The only two categories that increased were bluegrass banjo (up by seven after a decline last year) and folk song, which has been steadily growing.
A total of 76 fewer contestants signed up this year.
The biggest decline this year was in the dance category, which lost 23 contestants compared to last year.
Other declining categories include Autoharp, clawhammer banjo, bluegrass fiddle, dobro, guitar, mandolin, old-time band and bluegrass band.
The convention’s increasingly popular youth night on Monday continues to draw hundreds of competitors — more and more each year — but contestants register the day of the event and are not included in the 1,833 total.
Guitar is traditionally the biggest category, with 313 contestants registered. Dobro is the smallest category, with 58 signed up.
The convention runs through Saturday in Galax’s Felts Park. Winners will be announced early Sunday morning.