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Hundreds of who gathered in Galax this summer to play the most mandolins at once will be included in the Guinness Book of World Records.
By SHAINA STOCKTON
Tara Linhardt’s attempt at the World’s Largest Mandolin Ensemble record was approved by Guinness World Records on Nov. 26, and the new record is now officially listed on Guinness’ website.
Since the attempt was made at the 2012 Galax Old Fiddlers’ Convention on Aug. 7, Linhardt had been busy submitting the necessary documentation to Guinness.
“I was not relaxed about it until I finally heard back,” said Linhardt on Tuesday. “There was this huge stack of requirements. I kept thinking, ‘What if I get all of these people involved, and this doesn’t pass because I didn’t cross some ‘t’ or dot some ‘i’?’”
Having a witness from Guinness at the event would have cost $2,500, so to save on expenses, Linhardt collected a sign-up sheet of participant names, videotaped and photographed the event, and had witnesses sign a document.
According to Linhardt, the event wound up coming together at the last minute. “We were somewhere around 10 mandolins short before the event,” she said. “Everyone was digging up every mandolin they could find.”
Everything managed to pull together in the end, however. The final count was 389 participants, beating the previous record by six people.
They gathered in the grandstands in Galax’s Felts Park to perform. “It was so fun just to see all of the people who played different classes of music come together,” she said. “The group photos afterwards are great. They are like giant family photos or class reunion photos.”
The group played four songs in total during the jam session. Linhardt said that their third song, "Cripple Creek," was her favorite performance.
“It was the best one because it was the shortest. For some reason, when we played longer sets, the music started to get a weird feedback from the metal around us. It was like we had a second band starting in the ceiling [of the grandstands] when we played for too long,” she said.
Though exhausted from the stress of the paperwork, Linhardt is pleased with the results.
She has no immediate plans to challenge the record books again for a while. “We have this wonderful bonding experience now,” she said. “We can all sit around years from now and say, ‘Remember that time we all broke the world record together?’”
The record can be viewed by visiting the Guinness World Records website.
It is too soon to tell if the record will be listed in the book, Linhardt said.