Monday, August 6th
Let me explain about the Fiddler’s Convention venue: we are camped at the Cool Breeze Campground where Region #3 of the WBCCI hosts this rally to complement and expand the Convention format. The Convention itself takes place at the city park (with Grandstands) in downtown Galax, a few miles from our campground. Most of the Convention is evening fiddle competition and the rally fills in the gaps during the day with trips to historic locations, museums, city walks, breakfast, a women’s tea, a BBQ dinner, and other daily excursions. They also provide a long list of music performers just for us at the campground!
On the agenda at 10:30 was an introduction session for the novice rally attendees; some people have been attending this Airstream Rally for 17 years! We learned the ins and outs of this fast-pace, never-a-dull-minute rally. The main question is – can we keep up?? Another question was . . . the weather. Every time we look the % chance of rain changes from bad to good and back to bad again. Time will tell!
At 12:30 we left for a 3 mile caravan of shared rides to Cumberland Knob Park for a watermelon split and a history lesson by Betty Patton. Betty is a long-time airstreamer that grew up on the parkway – when they were first making the parkway! At that time it was called the “high scenic.” Her stories were tremendous and included information about the Galax tree leaves that are known for their longevity and used in flower arranging. Near the end of the session, as we were preparing to split the watermelon, thunder storms and rain popped up chasing us back to the campground. Where we had the watermelon in the comfort of the basement of our campground office building.
At 2:45 we left for downtown Galax and the Rex Theater – an 80-year-old, hometown theater. Our afternoon treat was a live concert by Carson Peters and Iron Mountain. 13 year old Carson, born in Piney Flats, TN, is a seasoned performer first competing in the Old Fiddlers Convention when he was 4 years old. He was named the 2010 Tennessee State Peewee Fiddle Champion, blew away the TV show Little Big Shots, and has performed on the Grand Ole Opry. Oh my gosh – it was a great concert, in a great location, arranged just for us Airstreamers.
We made a quick run back to the campground to relieve the dogs, and then headed out again for a Galax and the first evening of fiddling competition. Airstreamers had reserved parking close to the outdoor park. It was an evening of Junior competition and as we got there, youngsters 4 and above were already up performing! We could have taken chairs to sit in the dirt plaza in front of the competition stage, but we opted to sit in the stadium seating on this first night. The whole area was lined with fair-food-style vendors, and supper was BBQ pork sandwiches, a Bloomin’ Onion, and funnel cake! The first set of yearling musicians played “Old Style” fiddle, and the second set played “Bluegrass” style. I am not sure what was the difference! At this point I need to say that there is a big difference in performing music for entertainment and for competition. The ones that were “into” it the most were parents of these talented kids, and musicians that had grown up in the competition during previous years. We left, but Sue and Terry reported later that the competition progressed from the fiddles to mandolin and guitar.
We sat behind Carson Peter's parents in the grandstand; it was fun to see him come running up -- just another little kid enjoying the fair atmosphere! Later on, he competed in the youth guitar competition.
Long day! Lots of activity! Tomorrow will be just as busy, with an altogether different agenda! Check back!
Day 1, Friday, Aug 3rd
Hello from the Terraport at the Airstream Factory in Jackson Center! We’re not here for service work – we’re meeting up with John and Suzie for our first night on the way to Virginia for the Galax Old Fiddlers Convention!
A night at the Mothership is always fun. We did our 5th tour of the industrial unit, on the day that they broke ground for their newest enterprise – a facility that would triple the size of the existing factory! They are currently pumping out 125 Airstreams a week, and are behind by 3,000 orders! That does not include the Atlas motorhome, Interstate motorvans, Basecamp and the Nest, which are also backlogged. They’re on a mission to fulfill the world’s demand for the iconic, silver trailer!
We sat outside to romp the dogs in the nice, shady, grassy, partially fenced-in area surrounding the Terraport and went to dinner at the In-Between restaurant down the road; I took a shower and called it a night at 9:30!
Backing up little to tell the whole factory story: John/Suzie’s trailer had been at the factory for 2 weeks trying to diagnose an electrical issue – the techs couldn’t duplicate the symptoms and didn’t accomplish a fix. John and Suzie moved into the trailer in the Terraport, and it immediately displayed the difficulty. On Saturday morning John was at the service door at 7:00 a.m. – serviceman Kevin made a visit to the Terraport, found a faulty converter, and installed a new one! About 15 minutes – right there in the Terraport! On our way by 9:30!
Day 2, Saturday, Aug 4th
Our route took us around Columbus and out the southeast side, then East towards West Virginia and into Virginia – beautiful driving through thriving mountains! When we stopped for a dog stop Suzie and I took over the driving – my first experience with trailer/new truck on the Interstate . . . not a problem!
We landed at our KOA at 5:30 for the evening . . . it was a KOA at it’s very finest, although our single-night sites were not the best they had to offer. However, we did have patios with furniture, and the weather cooperated for a quick cookout. After dinner we walked the campground with the dogs – a stop at the contained dog park confirmed that they would rather continue the walk than stop and “play.”
We were all set for a quick drive to the location of the Galax Fiddlers Convention in the morning!
Day 3, Sunday, Aug 5th
The big surprise today was that we had a 13-mile ramble down the Blue Ridge Parkway to get to our destination! John and Suzie were the lead dogs on this slice of the caravan, and it was fun watching their Airstream (the Kloud9) on this winding and brilliantly green parkway. Our destination was Cool Breeze Campground and a rally hosted by Region 3 WBCCI – their 17th Special Event Rally for the Galax Old Fiddler’s Convention!
At the campground Sue and Terry, and then Gerry and Patsy pulled in right behind us – a total of 4 Airstreams in our contingent. In no time at all we were all assigned to side-by-side sites set into a stair-stepped hillside. Out came the awnings on the Airstreams, and 3 stand-alone awnings. Our sites were nicely graveled and grassed – but there was no shade. With temperatures rising into the high 80’s we set up our own refuge from the sun. Also predicted for the week was rain, so these canopies would serve double duty.
Our afternoon was spent settling in – registration at 2:00 and an afternoon social . . . with snacks at 4:30, followed by our first Bluegrass concert. First up was a JAM (Junior Appalachian Music) group. They played “old style” music and had all the wonderful country/bluegrass sounds and moves.
Next up was the Loose Strings Band – a true bluegrass all-girl band (except that one was absent and swapped for a stand-in guy). Although they seemed very young they swore they had been playing for the Airstreamers for 14 years at this venue! They played many of my favorites, topped by “Heavens Just A Sin Away”. Without much urging Tom bought me the CD, and I’m listening to it as I work on my blog!
That wrapped up the day, except for a final sit-out at the campsite to plan the next day. Come back to see what happened then!
We don’t go camping any more . . . we go ‘streamin’ ! The “SIlvermine and His” is our 2018 25' Airstream Serenity with Salsa interior and front twin beds., and ‘streamin’ is the name we use to describe our adventures. Stream along as we document everything from weekend trips to longer summer excursions and full-blown vacations. You know what they say: if you’re not in an Airstream – you’re just camping!
Tom & Ella Brown