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Old Time & Bluegrass Fiddler's Conventions
     In 1924, H.P. VanHoy started a convention to raise money for a new school in Union Grove. It was named The Union Grove Old Time Fiddlers' Convention, and started with around 200 people, growing to about 8,500 attendees by the early 1950s. By the late 1960s with H.P. VanHoy's son's assistance, the Convention had become nationally known and attendance was sometimes over 100,000, which would eventually be too many for the school to handle.
     A series of records and recordings were started in 1967 by J. Pierce VanHoy, including 8 records released in-house by the Union Grove Talking Machine record label from 1967-1974. In 1961 and 1962 there were two additional releases by Folkways Records, documenting the 37th and 38th conventions, respectively.
     The Convention's last year at Union Grove School was in 1969, and in 1970 the convention was moved to VanHoy Farms as the "World Championship Fiddlers' Convention", and was hosted and produced by J. Pierce VanHoy. Their H.P. VanHoy Memorial Coliseum was built in the mid '70s and still stands today. An opposing, invitation only convention was also started in 1970 on the opposite side of the interstate. While the convention at VanHoy Farms was shut down in the late 70's, the Fiddler's Grove convention continued after, but eventually stopped a few years ago. 
The Cook Shack
In 1961, Ireland's Grocery Grill and Cook Shack was opened by Myles and Pal Ireland. In 1989, they began to have jam sessions on Saturday mornings.  In 1994, they added concerts about twice a month, hosting a wide variety of musicians both local, and from as far away as France. The intimate concerts only held 50-60 people, requiring a reservation but not paid admission, leaving donations to the visiting bands. The Cook Shack became a necessary stop for many on their way to merlefest, and even leading the Irelands to add an international jam on the Tuesday before Merlefest every year. Folks would come from far and wide to enjoy the food and each other's music.
     Nobody was turned away from the jams, whether beginner or professional level, and it was not uncommon to see different types of acoustic music. Attendees remember French Folk Tunes, Gypsy Jazz, Classical; even music from Switzerland, Germany, Sweden, England, Japan, Norway, and other countries. Local legends including Wayne Henderson, the Kruger Brothers, Steve & Penny Kilby, Andrew Marlin of Mandolin Orange, and more have visited The Cook Shack at one time or another. Unfortunately, the old country store informality of the shows put on by The Cook Shack that musicians had come to love, came to an end around 2015 when the Irelands eventually retired. 
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