Stage Schedule

Registration EndsCompetition BeginsCategory
1:15pm1:30pmBluegrass Banjo
1:45pm2:00pmOld Time Banjo
2:15pm2:30pmBluegrass Fiddle
2:45pm3:00pmOld Time Fiddle
3:15pm3:30pmBand Competition
4:00pmSongwriting Finalists

Competition Information

Main Stage and Acoustic Arbor performers receiving compensation are not eligible to compete.

Instrument Competition

  • Each contestant must fill out a registration form for each competition they intend to enter and pay applicable entry fees. Registration fee is $10 for the first instrument and $5 for each subsequent instrument. Bands will pay a $15 registration fee. Payment will be taken at the registration booth.
  • Once a category starts, there will be no further registration in that category.
  • Each contestant will play two tunes, one fast and one slow. This may be adjusted according to the number of entries.
  • Medleys are acceptable as long as they do not last for more than 5 minutes.
  • Contestants must announce the name of the tune prior to playing.
  • No tuning or jamming in the area of the stage. No warming-up once upon the stage.
  • If a contestant breaks a string or has other difficulty with his/her instrument, he/she will have the opportunity to correct the problem and then return to the stage. However, if the problem cannot be quickly corrected, the contestant must allow the next player in line to play, and then he/she will be allowed to compete.
  • Singing is not allowed in the individual instrument categories. One back-up instrument will be allowed.
  • Sportsmanship is a must. Any contestant may be disqualified without a refund for unsportsmanlike conduct.
  • In the event of a tie, contestants will be challenged to an elimination round.
  • Cash prizes will be presented for each individual category 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners.
  • Certificates will be presented to all participants under the age of 18.
  • Band competition entries must consist of three (3) or more members and must have at least two different instruments. Cash awards will be presented to 1st place winners and certificates will be awarded to all participants under the age of 18.
  • The following criteria for Judges will be used in scoring the contestants:
    • Arrangement
    • Rhythm/Timing
    • Musicianship (based upon overall performance being tasteful, dynamic, entertaining)
    • Technique (technical competence including fingering, bowing, picking, etc.)
    • Stage Presence

Songwriting Competition

  • The Gathering in the Gap Songwriting Contest represents the spirit and traditions of Appalachian culture. Its focus is to showcase outstanding, but under-recognized, performing songwriters. Both traditional and newer styles of songs are encouraged. Song topics may fall into one or more of these general areas:
    • Songs relative to Americana and related topics
    • Topical songs about historic or current events
    • Songs should be in genres which have roots in Appalachian culture: Old Time, Folk, Bluegrass, Country, Gospel, Blues, Americana and Rockabilly
  • Entry is $10 for the first song, $5 for each subsequent song. Entry fees are non-refundable. Cash will not be accepted. Check or money order must be made to: Friends of Southwest Virginia Museum.
  • Entry deadline is April 26, 2024 at 4:00 P.M. Submissions must be received by this date, not postmarked.
  • CD submissions can be mailed to Friends of the Southwest Virginia Museum, 106 West 1st Street North, Big Stone Gap, VA 24219 or dropped off during regular business hours at the Southwest Virginia Museum Historical State Park. The Gathering in the Gap music festival is not responsible for late, damaged, misdirected, insufficient postage, or misappropriated entries.
  • Submissions can be submitted via email to
  • Electronic submissions must be submitted in MP3 format. No other formats will be accepted.
  • Each song submission must be accompanied by an entry form.
  • Each song entry must also contain the lyrics typed and double-spaced.
  • Cds and Lyric sheets must be labeled with the following information: name, phone number, email, co-authors if applicable, and song title. Musical production and
    performance quality will not be considered.
  • Song genre should be related to Country, Folk, Bluegrass, Old Time, Gospel, Blues, and Rockabilly.
  • Panelist will judge each song based on the following criteria: originality, lyrics, melody, and style.
  • Cds and lyrics will not be returned.
  • Ten finalist will be chosen to perform their song in the final round of the competition at this year’s Gathering in the Gap on May 25, 2024. Each finalist will receive a free ticket to the main stage concert and a festival t-shirt. The top three winners will also receive cash prizes and a plaque.
  • For more information call the Southwest Virginia Museum Historical State Park at 276-523-1322.