Felts Park stage work to begin

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By April Wright, Reporter

Work has begun on the permanent stage that will go up in Felts Park, as part of the 75th anniversary of the Galax Old Fiddlers' Convention, which is sponsored by the Galax Moose Lodge.

City Manager Keith Barker briefed members of Galax City Council on the project's status at their March 22 meeting.

Branson Construction of Chilhowie received a notice to proceed last Monday, after submitting a bid of $210,000. The total cost, Barker estimated, will be about $240,000, including implementing utilities.

The shell building of the stage is to be completed by July 20, in time for the fiddlers' convention start the first week of August, and the interior work, such as wiring and pluming, is to be completed by Sept. 18.

The Appalachian Regional Commission, through USDA Rural Development, awarded a matching grant of $100,000 to fund the construction. However, the construction of the stage is going to cost $40,000 more than expected.

To match the grant, the city originally was slated to fund $62,500, and the Moose Lodge, $37,500. The Moose Lodge will now provide an additional $12,500, and the city will make up the remaining difference.

Barker said the construction of the stage will not impede any events in the park this spring and summer.

The stage, he said, will also be designed to accommodate the big, yellow tent that hovers over the stage during the Old Fiddlers' Convention, a symbol of the convention for decades.

The 20-by-28-foot stage is designed to have a stone foundation and a wooden overlay, with framed log siding and a metal roof for a rustic appearance to reflect the feel of the area's heritage. The interior would have the comforts of heating and air conditioning, and the preliminary plan shows rooms for dressing, warm-up, sound and restrooms.

The stage will be set nearly 100 feet back from the grandstands.