Arts & Music
With a rich music history and thriving arts scene, Surry County represents the cultural heart of the Yadkin Valley. The artists here hold an appreciation for the past, while also creating new works that stretch genre boundaries and push the arts forward.
Art & Soul of The Yadkin Valley, NC
Here in the foothills of North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, the old-time music tradition goes back several generations. The instrumental music focuses on the fiddle and banjo, creating an intense, driving sound. Tommy Jarrell, one of the most well-known old-time musicians, was a native of northern Surry County’s Round Peak community. He developed a distinct fiddling style, and people came from around the world to study his technique. Jarrell’s fiddle now resides in the Smithsonian Institution and he is honored each year via the Tommy Jarrell Festival.
Old-time music is alive and well each Saturday at the Historic Earle Theatre in downtown Mount Airy when the local radio station WPAQ 740 AM hosts its show “Merry-Go-Round,” the nation’s second-longest-running live radio show behind “The Grand Ole Opry.”
Surry Arts Councils
Two area arts councils work to preserve the heritage of Surry County’s music and support visual and performing artists in the area.
The Foothills Arts Council in Elkin sponsors the annual Surry Old Time Fiddlers Convention in Dobson, where square dancing and instrument competitions take center stage. It also puts on the Art Hike in downtown Elkin on the second Saturday of the month from April through December. The event highlights visual artists and live music. Elkin’s Foothills Theatre, established in 1969, brings plays and musicals to the community.
The Surry Arts Council in Mount Airy operates The Historic Earle Theatre, as well as the Andy Griffith Playhouse, Andy Griffith Museum, Blackmon Amphitheatre and Siamese Twins Exhibit.
Many local businesses support the arts by hosting shows and live music. The Living Room Coffeehouse and Winebar in downtown Pilot Mountain exhibits work by local artists on its walls and presents live music on Saturday evenings.
Scroll down for a listing of art and music attractions in Surry County ...
Andy Griffith Playhouse
It features the same stage where a young Andy Griffith made his first appearance, singing a song in the school's talent show.
Located in downtown Mount Airy across from the Andy Griffith Playhouse, this venue offers great events from early spring through late fall.
Blue Ridge Music Center
Established by the U.S. Congress in 1985, the site includes an outdoor amphitheater and indoor interpretive center used to highlight an important strand of American musical culture, still alive and thriving in the region.
Donna Fargo Collection
The Mount Airy Museum of Regional History houses an exhibit on the musical career of Grammy Award winning country music star Donna Fargo, including stage outfits, photographs, records and other memorabilia.
The Historic Earle Theatre, circa 1937, is an art deco theater open year-round for live music, touring concerts, select movies and the Saturday morning Merry-Go-Round radio broadcast. Known for bluegrass and Old Time music acts.
Edwards Franklin House
It is also home of the annual Sonker Festival, held the first Saturday in October to honor Surry County's celebrated local dessert.
Foothills Arts Center
This community organization is responsible for live theater, music festivals, art exhibitions and a craft gallery.
Gertrude Smith House
Gertrude loved historic preservation, and her passion for preservation led her to form a foundation to oversee perpetual care of the home as a living museum after her death in 1981.
There is a stop on the NC Civil War Trail, as well as a Yadkin River Adventures, a canoe and kayak outfitter.
Every Saturday morning since 1948, WPAQ has aired Merry-Go-Round, a live radio broadcast of old-time, bluegrass and gospel music.
Mud Duck Pottery
What started as a hobby turned into a passion for owners Gene and Latonna.