If you happen to be a motorcycle rider, the parkway is an excellent way to see gorgeous scenery at a safe relaxing. Stunning views, abundant hiking trails and interpretative exhibits are just some of the interesting things you will find. Just a few minutes from Galax on the Parkway, the Blue Ridge Music Center includes an outdoor amphitheater, an indoor interpretive center/theater and a free interactive exhibition called the Roots of American Music. Open seasonally, visitors can experience the traditional music of the region performed by local and regional musicians as well as special concerts held in the amphitheater from May through September.
Rails to Recreation
Less than a mile from the center of downtown Galax, visitors can access the 57-mile New River Trail (NRT). Part of a state park by the same name, NRT follows an abandoned railroad right-of-way. A variety of recreational opportunities offer experiences for all ages from hiking and biking to horseback riding and camping. The waters of the New River provide premiere fishing and boating experiences. Contrary to its name, the New River is believed to be the second oldest river in the world and one of the few that flows north. It parallels 39 miles of NRT.
Nearby Matthew State Forest offers recreational activities on a 566-acre area. Hiking and biking trails afford challenge and beauty. The Matthews Living History Farm showcases agriculture circa the early 1900s through demonstrations, workshops, special events and environmental education.
Conveniently located to the activities already mentioned, the area also includes several nine and 18-hole golf courses with breathtaking views of the beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Resort locations nearby offer a full service golfing experience.
Southwest Virginia’s musical heritage is alive and well. There’s no better place to experience it than at the home of the grandfather of old-time music festivals. Since 1935, the Old Fiddler’s Convention has been one of the most prominent traditional music contests in the United States. Each August, thousands ascend on Felts Park to play music, learn about the heritage, and enjoy the music and atmosphere. Musicians as old as the convention itself or barely old enough to hold an instrument sit side-by-side and play and sing and learn. Rain or shine, the weeklong event offers an experience that cannot be had anywhere else.
When it was built in the 1930s, those who designed the Rex Theater could not have imagined that almost a century later this structure would still be an important part of Galax’s downtown. Like many theaters of its time, it was constructed to house the latest form of entertainment — the moving pictures. While today it can still be used for that form of entertainment, it is more widely known as a place to showcase the musical heritage of the region, honoring what was then and what is now.
Every Friday night, the community sends out 100,000 watts of heritage in the form of old-time and bluegrass music broadcasted live from the historic stage of the Rex. As a cooperative effort of the City of Galax and local radio station, WBRF 98.1 FM, “Blue Ridge Back Roads” is heard throughout Virginia and neighboring states and is streamed live via the Internet to a worldwide audience. Listeners enjoy the music of legends or the latest up-and-coming group. So firmly is the location entrenched in the history of Virginia music that it is a jewel in the crown of the state’s music map, the Crooked Road: Virginia’s Heritage Music Trail.
Art for Everyone
Perhaps you would like to try your hand at a potter’s wheel or learn the art of hand embroidery. Maybe someone in your family has wanted to learn the strokes necessary to create a painting or expand their skills on the guitar. There are opportunities to learn a variety of creative talents at Chestnut Creek School of the Arts.
Classes for adults, teens, and children are offered in Appalachian music and dance, drawing and painting, weaving, basket weaving, felting, sewing, dyeing, jewelry, pottery, wood and stone carving and many more. Besides classes, a variety of events are held through the year that support the arts and their important role in a creative culture.