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The Scoop on October Events in Southern West Virginia

October is a fun-filled month in southern West Virginia. Our mountains are covered in beautiful hues of red, orange, and yellow. Rafting season still has a few days left, and fall festivals and events are so plentiful you’ll have trouble choosing which ones to attend.

Here’s what’s happening around southern West Virginia through the rest of October.

The New River Train stops at Railroad Days

Big Events

•                Bridge Day – Saturday October 20. This annual event on the New River Gorge Bridge is the state’s largest single-day festival, with close to 70,000 folks making the trip to Fayetteville. This year’s event boasts a catapult, a BASE jump wedding, and plenty of other activities to fill out the day.

•                 New River Train Excursion – October 20-21 and 27-28. This is a 300 mile round trip ride on the rails from Huntington to Hinton, right through the heart of the New River Gorge during peak fall colors. The train arrives in Hinton just after noon, allowing you to enjoy the Hinton Railroad Days festival for a few hours before heading back to Huntington. This is an extremely popular trip and there are only a few coach seats left for the train on the 28th. Book now!

•                Hinton Railroad Days – October 20-21 and 27-28. This festival celebrates the contribution the railroad made to the area. Plenty of games, crafts, vendors, and food make this a great way to spend a day.

•                11th Annual Princeton-Mercer County Chamber of Commerce Women’s Expo – October 26-27 at the Brushfork Armory. Two days of entertainment, including a fashion show, music, and over 100 vendors, make this a fun filled woman’s weekend.

•                ACE’s New River Gorge-ous Trail Run - October 27 at ACE Adventure Resort. For both  serious athletes and casual competitors alike, this trail run is a wonderful way to enjoy the Gorge. Runs of 13.5 and 7.5 miles and a 4.5 mile walk are scheduled.

Special Performances

October also offers some great live performances here in southern West Virginia.

•                Ralph Stanley and Seldom Scene – October 20 at the Chuck Mathena Center in Princeton. This is Bluegrass music at its finest.

•                The Crucible – October 19-20 at the Greenbrier Valley Theatre in Lewisburg. This Tony Award winning play is Arthur Miller’s classic retelling of the Salem Witch Trials. Very fitting for the season.

•                “Hello Dolly”- October 26-27 at the Clay Center in Charleston. This classic Broadway romantic comedy is a must-see.

We’re well into October, but there are still plenty of things to do and see. And we didn’t even mention the “spooktacular” happenings coming up soon. Check out our blog early next week for details on area Halloween events.

Bridge Day Highlights

A massive structure like the New River Gorge Bridge deserves a massive festival, and Bridge Day

New River Gorge Bridge - Ed Goody Photography

does not disappoint. From the 450 BASE jumpers to the 200+ vendors to the 300 or so rappellers, this southern West Virginia festival goes big in every category.  It was even planned to take advantage of the 100 different colors of peak fall foliage.  It’s no wonder more than 80,000 people show up to enjoy this fall favorite.

The New River Gorge is world-renowned for its beauty and plethora of outdoor adventures. Bridge Day is just the icing on this wonderful cake, adding some extra frosting via rappelling, high lining and BASE jumping. These are some of the activities going on for the adventure-seeking crowd; below is a list of activities for other Bridge Day visitors.

* Try the Local Cuisine – The Taste of Bridge Day is a local fundraiser and takes place at Adventures on the Gorge on Friday, October 14.  Come out and experience some of the area’s best food from local restaurants and caterers.

* Bridge Day Car Show – If you have a special ride or you’re just a motorhead, this display of automobiles is worth taking in. Located right off Rt. 19 at the Quality Inn, it goes on from 10 am to 4 pm.
* Whitewater Rafting – Want to enjoy a view of the bridge, see some jumpers and have a little adventure of your own?  Book a Lower New River rafting trip and enjoy both.
* Downtown Fayetteville – Don’t forget that Fayetteville offers a bunch of Bridge Day activities too. From the pancake breakfast at the American Legion at 6am to the Chili and Cornbread Cookoff, live music and Cornhole Tournament going on from 1pm until 6pm, Fayetteville is a great stop after your day on the Bridge winds down.

If you’re here for Bridge Day and curious as to what else may be going on, just find yourself a local and ask. You’ll get the lowdown on all the other great activities that may be happening.

No matter what you do, just enjoy the beauty of southern West Virginia in the fall.  It is one of the best times to be here.

How the New River Gorge Bridge Was Jumped

Anyone familiar with Bridge Day knows that one of the biggest draws of the event is watching 400 or so base jumpers heave themselves off a mountain of steel in hopes of gliding to a stop some 876

B.A.S.E. Jumping off the New River Gorge Bridge

feet below.

But what very few people know, even the seasoned Bridge Day veterans, is how this semi-crazed spectacle first came about.

Humble Beginnings

The very first “Bridge Day” was in 1977; really, it was Governor Jay Rockefeller’s open house to showcase this magnificent feat of engineering upon completion.  At the time, the Bridge was the longest single steel arch bridge in the world and the Grand Opening ceremony was designed to let the people of WV experience this marvel by walking across it and taking in the view.

Originally, Bridge Day was supposed to be a one-time event.  But the massive turnout lead to Bridge Day becoming an annual festival, starting in 1981.  The first Official Bridge day was held on November 8th and featured two skydivers jumping onto the Bridge and 5 jumpers plunging from the deck into the Gorge. These were the first “legal”  jumps from the Bridge.
The rest, they say, is history.

The First Jumper

Now, a little disclaimer: the actual first jump had occurred nearly two years earlier, and in true WV style, it was completed by a coal miner.  Burton Ervin, a mine foreman from Cowen, made the first official jump from the Bridge on August 17, 1979 at 10:20 pm.  It was witnessed by around 200 people and yes, he did land in the water.

The first five legal jumpers on the first official Bridge Day were:

* Mig Fernandez
* Dennis Wood
* Ken Hamilton
* Andy MacIntyre
* Jerry Waters

Other “known” jumpers (before it was a legal Bridge Day event) included:

* John Noak
* Brad Smith
* Brian Hinni
* Greg Lawson

Other Bridge Day Entertainment

B.A.S.E. jumperslaunching themselves off the bridge has become a huge part of the festival. But

Rappellers have a unique way of raising our flags

there have always been other activities that taking place on Bridge Day.

Since 1992, rappellers have been dropping some 600 feet down to the tracks on the south side of the Bridge during the event.  A few hearty souls even ascend that same line back up to the Bridge. Rappelling is now open to the public, but it’s available on a first come basis, so early registration is key.

In 1984 Mark Chamberlain and Martin Lyster bungee jumped while riding an inflatable pink elephant off the deck. Talk about a spectacle.

In 1992, Chris Allum from New Zealand set a world record for the longest bungee from a solid object.  In 1993, he set another record with a 7-person bungee from the Bridge. This was the last time anyone has flung themselves off the Bridge strapped to a rubber band.

And now this year, tandem B.A.S.E. jumps will be allowed for the first time.  Who knows what will be next?

Would you like to jump off the Bridge?

Can’t Miss Fall Festivals

Streets lined with food.  Beer gardens.  Celebrations 876 ft in the air.  These are what West Virginia festivals are made of and over the next two weekends there are lots of lip-smacking events to

Rappeller w/ US & WV State Flags/ Bridge Day

choose from.  Here are some insider tips on what’s new with these can’t miss fall festivals:

* Taste Of Our Towns (TOOT) Festival – Lewisburg.  Saturday, October 9.  The event staff has told us this will be the largest TOOT yet – with 18 additional food vendors lining the street of this historic town. New food finds will include Stella’s, a tea house coming soon and two additional wineries.

* Bramwell’s Oktoberfest – Bramwell.  Saturday, October 9 – This year’s event features 11 bands to set the stage for this fun event.  Your $18 ticket (or $20 at the door) includes all the live entertainment and all the beer tastings you can hold until they run out.  Some additional food vendors and artists have also been added.

* Bridge Day – Fayetteville.  October 15-16 – Friday October 15th from 5-9 pm is Taste of Bridge Day @ Smokey’s on The Gorge and on Saturday the 16th is the 31st annual Bride Day Festival – the only day it’s legal to walk across the New River Gorge Bridge.

Don’t miss the new Hometown Subaru Down Under Tour.  With a ticket, you can be taken down below to watch the BASE jumpers and rappellers riverside.  And the tour comes with lunch!

Plan now to be among the tens of thousands of festival goers that will transcend on the Mountain State in search of great fall celebrations.  Where are you spending your weekend?

What No One Knows About Bridge Day

Bridge Day Zipline

Bridge Day Zipline

Bridge Day.

Around here, those are some big words.  Everyone knows that Bridge Day is the largest festival in West Virginia.  We also know that it has to be seen to be believed.  It’s a spectacle.

That much, we can all agree on.  Bridge Day is about as cool as it gets.  But there are always other rumors, and questions, and misunderstandings about what’s going on from year to year.

So, we’re here to tell you, with this blog post, some of those little Bridge Day secrets that will make you the authority when it comes to info on the big day.  We’ve put together a group of facts, trivia, and logistical info for you to jump into (get it?  oosh- sorry)  before Bridge Day arrives.

No need to thank us :-)

1.   Bridge Day sells more funnel cake per capita than any other festival in the country.  Actually, we’re just basing that on our own love of funnel cake.  Don’t quote us on that one.

2.     Jumpers have to qualify for the lottery to get a pass to jump It’s first-come, first-served until all 450 slots are gone and they always sell out.  There’s always a ton of confusion about this one from us, the un-jumping public, on this one.  They have to have 140 100 skydive jumps before getting a ticket for the bridge.  Once they get their spot, they can jump as many times as they like from open to close. For more information for B.A.S.E. jumpers, visit http://www.bridgeday.info.

3.     Bridge Day 2009 is on Saturday, October 17.  Okay, not so secret.

4.     Taste Of Bridge Day, the eating party with all the restaurants from the New River Gorge cooking their best dishes, is on Friday night before the big day.  This party is in contention with Bridge Day itself for best event of the weekend.

5.      The First Annual Bridge Day Chili Cookoff will start just after the festivities on the bridge end on Saturday, and has one of the greatest slogans of any chili cookoff ever.  Ready for it?  “Jumping.  Beans.”  Get it?  Awesome.

6.      Bridge Day is as much about rappelling as it is about jumping.  The ropes hanging off of the bridge on Bridge Day are from 750 to 800 feet long.  There’s also a zipline hanging off the bridge that’s open to the public, if you can believe that.  You should, because it’s true.

7.    The Bridge Day website has every single piece of information about bridge day ever released.  If you have any questions about the event, click on over there to check it out.

8.     All of your photos, videos, and comments can be shared with the entire world (and definitely the Bridgeday audience) by tagging them with #bridgeday when you upload to Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, or Twitter.  You can then check out everything that everyone has said about the festival by going to the social media newsroom at Bridge Day social media newsroom

9.     All of the New River Gorge rafting outfitters have Bridge Day specials.  It’s one thing to go to a festival like this one, but it’s another thing entirely to show up via whitewater raft.

10.     No bungee jumping.

Questions?  We’d love to answer them.  Get in touch with us, and we can help plan your Bridge Day this year.  Otherwise, see you on the Bridge!

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