• HILLSVILLE — The Carroll County Agricultural Fair continues this weekend, with homemade crafts and home-canned food, livestock shows, farm equipment on display, midway games, live music, wrestling and carnival rides

    The fair runs through Aug. 25 at the Southwest Virginia Farmers’ Market in Hillsville. Each day, there are exhibits in the Exhibit Hall, an FFA Barnyard near the Livestock Show Tent and demonstrations located throughout the fairgrounds.

    This weekend’s events include:

    Friday, 5–11 p.m.

  • An archer from the Twin Counties brought home his third consecutive gold medal earlier this month after finishing first place in the State Games of America.

    An avid competitor, outdoorsman and former state forest warden, Arthur Cox aced the archery competition at this year’s national games on Aug. 4, and shared his story this week about the rewarding experiences that archery has brought him throughout his life, on and off the shooting range.

  • Winners of the 84th Annual Galax Old Fiddlers' Convention, held Aug. 5-10, 2019 in Felts Park.


    Mattias Thedens — Oslo, Norway


    1. Mattias Thedens - Oslo, Norway

    2. Anissa Burnett - Boone, N.C.

    3. Asa Nelson - Zionville, N.C.

    4. Maxwell Brown - Wilmington, Del.

    5. Richard Bowman - Mount Airy, N.C.

    6. Jesse Maw - Mount Airy, N.C.

    7. Kirk Sutphin - Walkertown, N.C.

  • Good news for Twin County natives who missed it last year: the “Fiddlin’” documentary about the Galax Old Fiddlers’ Convention is coming to Twin County Cinema III in September.

    Last year, the film by sisters Julie Simone and Vicki Vlasic made headlines for its portrayal of the convention and has continued to garner awards on the film festival circuit.

  • WHITETOP — A group of old-time musicians, some from as far away as Pennsylvania, converged on Whitetop Mountain in western Grayson County on July 14 to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the last White Top Folk Festival.

    The festival ran from 1931 to 1939 (except 1937) on the second-highest peak in Virginia. The 1940 event was cancelled because of severe flooding and it never resumed. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt famously attended the 1933 festival.

    The 2019 anniversary observance was organized by Rita Scott and Greg Troxell.

  • Staff Report

    Over the course of this week, about 40,000 musicians and fans will attend the 84th Annual Galax Old Fiddlers’ Convention.

    Fans of old-time and bluegrass from the Twin Counties to California, from the British Isles to Australia and Japan, will be in Galax playing string music into the wee hours under ball field lights, seeing old friends and camping no matter the weather.

  • This year’s Smoke on the Mountain Virginia State Barbecue Championship was held in downtown Galax on July 19-20, and even in the sweltering 90˚F-plus heat, 16 teams turned out to vie for the grand prize of $2,500, a custom-made banjo and a spot at the Memphis Barbecue Network’s “Memphis in May” competition.

    This year’s Smoke featured new food and merchandise vendors and the amateur “No Pro Wing Show” competition on Friday.

  • Staff Report

    This year’s “Take a Break from the Interstate” U.S. 21 Road Market is scheduled for July 26-28.

    Four years ago, tourism officials in Virginia and North Carolina joined forces to create a multistate road market event along U.S. Route 21. Over the years, the three-day event has been expanded and now covers more than 100 miles of Historic U.S. Route 21, running from Wytheville to Harmony, N.C. The event passes through Grayson County and the Town of Independence.

  • “You would be amazed how hard it is to glitter a chicken,” says Lori Baumgardner at the No Pro Wing Show tent.

    She’s indicating one of the awards for the amateur wing contest at this year’s Smoke on the Mountain, a shiny gold plastic chain with a spangly silver poultry silhouette dangling from it, called “the golden chain of the wing.”

  • Staff Report

    Preparations for the 15th Annual Smoke on the Mountain Virginia State BBQ Championship and accompanying street festival are under way this week.

    Smoke on the Mountain will be held July 19-20. Once again, the event will be held on historic downtown Galax, but will have a few changes to mark this milestone year.

  • The 7th Annual Great Galax Duck Race was held July 4 on Chestnut Creek, starting at the East Grayson Street bridge next to Vaughan Bassett and ending in the creek next to CVS.

    Once again, the race broke the previous year’s record, with 4,100 ducks on the water.

    As always, the “race” was actually a technique for the annual harvesting and cleaning of the popular Galax rubber duck (scientific name Flexilis anatis galax), a valuable cash crop for the Galax Volunteer Fire Department, which hosted and managed the event.

  • Last year’s rodeo in Galax’s Felts park was so good it won an award. This weekend, it’s back again.

    The Oakland Ruritan Club will host a two-day rodeo on Friday and Saturday, with gates opening at 6 p.m. and the show starting at 8 p.m. nightly.

  • Staff Reports

    It’s a long trip to Carnegie Hall, and a great expense to see the Paris Opera, but tickets to the world’s most sought-after social event can be yours for a mere $5.

    Just stop any Galax firefighter you see and ask to purchase a ticket to the annual July 4 Great Galax Duck Race, truly an amazing spectacle for young and old alike.

    The swells, the hoi polloi and the cream of the celebrity media crop all gather along the banks of Chestnut Creek to watch the thrilling sight of yellow rubber ducks floating downstream.

  • HoustonFest’s 2019 lineup includes Shenandoah, Dailey & Vincent and EmiSunshine, as well as many returning favorites, new faces and the popular Youth Stage.

    HoustonFest will be held in Galax’s Felts Park on June 7-8.

    Dailey & Vincent (Jamie Dailey and Darrin Vincent, backed by their band) are five-time Grammy award winners individually, three-time Grammy nominees collectively, four-time DOVE Award winners and winners of 35 IBMA awards altogether, including three-time IBMA Entertainer of the Year and three-time Vocal Group of the Year awards.

  • TROUTDALE — Local author Deborah T. Clark will hold a reading for her new book, “Friend, Foe, or Family,” at Chestnut Creek School of the Arts on Friday at 4 p.m., followed by a signing at Chapters Book Shop at 5 p.m.

    Clark has won numerous literary honors, including first place prizes for fiction at Wytheville’s Chautauqua Writing Contest and the Sherwood Anderson Prize for Creative Writing.

    The Grayson County resident is a part-time reporter for The Gazette and The Declaration and a former teacher.

  • Young ministers of the Sky View Academy let their commitment of creating a solid foundation for youth flourish this past week by donating an array of useful items to the Tri-Area Pregnancy Center in Galax, to be dispersed to new parents and children in the Twin Counties.

    The academy, a ministry of Sky View Missionary Baptist Church in Fancy Gap, is comprised of children and members of the congregation with the collective mission of providing local children with a solid foundation to thrive physically, mentally and spiritually.

  • Capital News Service

    RICHMOND — Irish eyes are smiling in Virginia.

    The commonwealth is home to about 790,000 people with Irish heritage, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That is about 9.5 percent of the state’s total population.

    The percentage of residents with Irish ancestry ranges from 2.6 percent in Petersburg to 16.5 percent in Rappahannock County.

  • Staff Report

    RICHMOND – Virginia State Parks are partnering with the national organization Park Rx America to help more people enjoy the outdoors.

    The nonprofit Park Rx America works with doctors to prescribe nature to patients as part of routine healthcare.

  • SOUTH KOREA — In his training courses with the U.S. Air Force, James Sizemore’s peers were mostly between 18 and 26 years old.

    While he shared their eagerness to serve, the former Twin Counties resident stood out from his fellow trainees in one very noticeable way — he was about twice their age.

    After a previous stint in the military and a civilian career in aviation, Sizemore found himself beginning a new chapter in his life at age 50, as a member of the D.C. Air National Guard.