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Tons To Do at Beckley’s Auto Fair

Beckley’s extravagant Friends of Coal Auto Fair is celebrating its 10th anniversary! Notice it’s not a car “show.” It’s a full-on, four-day, festival-style fair with tons of entertainment and attractions. The cars are just part of the fun.

Travis Tritt

Travis Tritt

The family fun kicks off with a Thursday night concert, featuring the southern indie band Shea and upbeat rockers Motion Theatre. Park and hop aboard the event shuttles to join the Kick-off Party excitement.

Friday is the Family Night Cruise-In, which parades the vehicles from uptown to the show grounds. Then Jada Vance of “American Idol” fame, will take the stage before the late-night movie screening of “Wreck it Ralph,” the story of a video game villain who strives to become a hero instead.

The car show will have vehicles from classic rides to modern muscle cars on display. Caring owners will have their wheels on display to compete for several awards, and also during a Kreager Tire Burn Competition.

Carnival fun will also be booming all weekend long, with inflatables, a Eurobungee, zipline and more. Amusement area tickets (separate from the $2 regular admission) get you and the kids unlimited play! No walking back to re-buy tickets every time they yell “One more time!”

Friday, the amusement tickets will be discounted for the Family Night Special. (And you can score the discount again Sunday, when general admission is also free!)

Saturday night, two great national acts will take the stage. Country singer Travis Tritt and Southern rockers the Davisson Brothers Band will keep the crowds dancing until the fireworks start exploding.

Before that performance, famous mine safety competition teams will be showing off their rescue routine skills, including the Beckley Police Department’s star K-9 Unit dogs, Artie and Ciro.

The Davisson Brothers

The Davisson Brothers

Sunday, there is a non-denominational church service, and then the cars that dazzle the judges will receive their awards.

Show tickets are available in advance at a lower rate, or at the gate the day of. They include the admission price.

The funds raised during the event will support YMCA programs.

Which part of the Friends of Coal Auto Fair are you most excited about?

Visiting West Virginia in August? Make the State Fair Part of Your Vacation

If your vacation brings you to West Virginia in mid-August, you’ll find another great event that showcases the traditions of agriculture, family entertainment, and education. The West Virginia State Fair is almost here, and it should be on your must-do list.

Staged August 10-18 at the fairgrounds in Fairlea in Greenbrier County, the West Virginia State Fair is full of fun and entertainment for the entire family. Here is why the fair is a great way to spend the day.

West Virginia State Fair

WV Traditions

West Virginia is, even to this day, largely a rural state. A lot of the traditions of the small family farm are still practiced today, and the Fair allows these folks to showcase their skills. Livestock exhibits are a huge part of the fair and the exhibition can mean new business for many of the farmers that attend. Throughout the Fair, there are different livestock shows for many different categories.

Many schools in the state still have WV 4-H or Future Farmers of America (FFA) programs, which encourage participation in the various events that the Fair offers.

In addition to livestock, there are plenty of other exhibits in which kids can participate, including gardening and arts and crafts. Also, be sure to check out:

  • Draft Horse – Horse pulls and Halter, Hitch, and Farm Shows that feature draft horses.
  • Harness Racing – A traditional event that is a fan favorite.
  • Horse Shows
  • Flowers, Foods, and Needlework – There are junior and senior displays and competitions in these categories.
  • Agricultural Produce and Fine Arts and Crafts – There are junior and senior displays and competitions in these categories.
  • Great Lakes Timber Show – This popular show features chainsaw carving, ax throwing, logrolling, and more.
  • Cooks Corner Cooking Demos – Learn cooking basics or perfect your skills.

These are just a few of the exhibits you can see at the fair. Check out the daily calendar of events for more info.

What Else?

There are many other activities that will be going on throughout the week. The Zerbini’s Family Circus will perform multiple shows daily.  And there will be many different musical groups providing entertainment all week long. A clogging group, The Appalachian Hoedown Cloggers will perform traditional dances. There is also the Flying Houndz Frisbee Trick Dog Show, a motocross show, a bull riding competition, and more.

Trace Adkins performs on August 10

And don’t miss the big time musicians that will be performing in the grandstand in the evenings:

  • Trace Adkins
  • Gaither Vocal Band
  • Landau Eugene Murphy Jr.
  • Justin Moore
  • Brantley Gilbert
  • Newsboys and Building 429
  • Kip Moore
  • Victoria Justice

All of these shows have admission fees in addition to the Fair admission charge. Be sure to check availability of tickets before you go.

The WV State Fair is a wonderful week of family fun and entertainment. And we haven’t even mentioned all the amusement rides, carnival games, and food that is part of the fair. Yes, many people go to the Fair just for the food. Be sure to grab one of the giant cinnamon rolls.

If your vacation plans have you in the Mountain State August 10-18, a visit to our showcase of West Virginia’s heritage and traditions should be on your agenda. Visit the West Virginia State Fair.

Your Guide to Memorial Day in Southern West Virginia

The three-day Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial beginning of summer, and no place rocks the start of the season like southern West Virginia. If you’re still unsure about how you are going to spend your Memorial Weekend, look no further.

Picnic It Up

Spending the day outside with family and friends is a Memorial Day tradition. Here are a few spots that are great for spending the day picnicking.

Grandview – There are plenty of tables or spots to set up your picnic. Overlooks, hiking trails, and places for kids to play make it good for groups of all ages.

Babcock State Park – With a trout stream and a lake in this state park, fishing is just one of the activities that you can make part of your picnic day.

Dunglen – The day use area at the Park Service property in Thurmond has a shelter and volleyball court. You can hike or bike the Southside Junction Trail from here or go across the river and check out the town of Thurmond and the train depot.

Pipestem State Park – A tram down to the Bluestone River, horseback riding, and all the other great outdoor activities make this a super spot to spend the day (or the entire weekend).

Events and Adventures

In addition to traditional southern West Virginia adventures (whitewater rafting, biking, hiking, zip lining, and rock climbing) there are some fairly new attractions to check out. Visit Bridge Walk, Timbertrek, and Burning Rock Outdoor Adventure Parkwhile you’re here for something a little different.

Photo courtesy WVNS

Carnival Fun at the Mountain Festival

And there are also a few special events taking place during Memorial Day Weekend.

Parrot Palooza/Beckley Live United Street Festival – 3 days of fun, May 25-27, including a street festival with lots of live music, a cornhole tournament, a poker run and a hot dog eating contest.

Memorial Day Package at Glade Springs – Stay 2 nights between 24th and 28th and receive a 3rd night free. Activities include a 70′s themed pool party with dinner and live entertainment, Manicure and Martini night at Spa Orange, a cornhole tournament and special activities at Bunkers.

Mountain Festival - Held every Memorial Day in Bluefield, this multi-day event for the whole family features a carnival, games, food, crafts, animals music and more. It runs from the 22nd through the 28th at the City Park in Bluefield.

Dandelion Festival - May 24 – 28. Explore the culture and heritage of White Sulphur Springs with this festival featuring dandelion wine tastings, arts and crafts, cultural exhibits and live entertainment.

What are you doing this weekend in southern West Virginia?

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.

Is there Such a Thing as Too Much Chocolate?

One of West Virginia’s fastest growing events will be here soon – the Lewisburg Chocolate

Lewisburg Chocolate Festival

Festival.  A day after our own heart…a day where eating chocolate to excess is not only o.k. but encouraged!

If you haven’t made it to the April 9 event before, you’re in for a treat.  Organizers say this year’s festival will be the biggest yet – with more than 35 different chocolate samplings being offered in the downtown shops and restaurants.   And tickets are just $1 each.

In between all that eating, you can learn to make chocolate desserts too.  Chefs from
The Greenbrier and even the White House will be onhand and offering free demonstrations.

Music? They’ve got it.  Bands including Fayetteville’s own Wild Rumpus and Lewisburg’s The Jarmovers will take the outdoor stage as well as broadway styled tunes from the stars of Greenbrier Valley Theatre’s Little Women.


Kids stuff?
You bet.  The mousse eating contest is always something to see as well as the outdoor storytelling, balloon artists, and kid’s tastings like chocolate pasta and chocolate edible hand painting.

If you go:

*Remember tasting tickets often sell out – so grab yours in advance by visiting www.lewisburgchocolatefestival.com

*The downtown Lewisburg streets are closed off to allow for a fun, festive atmosphere.
Consult a Lewisburg map for tips on where to park.

http://www.lewisburgchocolatefestival.com/lewisburgmap.htm

Down Home Country Cookin’

Spring is near.

West Virginia Ramp Dinner

Ramps in West Virginia

In Southern West Virginia spring brings a number of things: Warmer temperatures, the last few turns on skis, the start of whitewater season, blooming flowers and much more. It also signals the time for  ramps.

You may be familiar with the enigmatic ramp. For those of you that aren’t, a ramp is a wild leek, and a local harbinger of spring.

Simple enough right? Well, there is a bit more to their story. They have a very pronounced onion flavor and a strong garlic scent. I’ll admit, scent may be putting it mildly. Needless to say, ramps are loved, hated yet never ignored.

In the coming weeks ramp dinners and festivals will take place all across West Virginia, none more famous than Richwood’s Feast of the Ramson. If you were asked to draw the epicenter of rampdom on a map, Richwood would be the X that marks the spot.

I recently passed through Richwood and was happy to see Four Seasons Outfitters had fresh ramps! Needless to say, I quickly bought bag-full for dinner.

Next stop? The local grocery store for fixins. Brown soup beans (pintos), homemade cornbread, fried potatoes with ramps, and some thick sliced bacon.

Who’s Hungry?

Soup Beans:

Take a bag (16 oz) of Pinto Beans, add 2 cups of water and bring to a boil.  Let beans boil for two minutes then remove from heat and let them sit covered for one hour.  Then drain, add 6 cups of hot water and simmer for approx 2 ½ hours (add more water as needed).  For flavor you will need simmer beans with either a ham bone, fat back or thick sliced country bacon (I used bacon), salt and pepper to taste.
Cornbread:

Last year I had the opportunity to eat at The Greenbrier’s Restaurant ‘44’ where they serve Cathy Justice’s Blue Ribbon Cornbread. If you have a cast iron skillet use it. Add just a little oil to the bottom of skillet and let it warm up in the oven prior to putting in mixture – makes the cornbread come out golden brown.

If you’re looking for a perfect cornbread for your ramp dinner? This is the one.

Cathy Justice’s “Best of Show” Blue Ribbon Cornbread

1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/16 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 egg, slightly beaten
1/4 cup canola oil

Preheat oven to 425°.
Oil an 8×8 pan.
Mix all dry ingredients. Add liquids. Stir just to mix.
Bake 30 minutes until golden brown.

Footnote from Cathy Justice:
“Please use your judgment about sugar & oil. It’s better sweet than not!

Fried Potatoes, Ramps & Bacon:

Dice your potatoes (I leave the skin on), put them in a skillet with a little oil, salt and pepper to taste. Cook until tender.

Chop and sauté ramps in skillet then add to potatoes when they are just about done (if you fry ramps with potatoes entire time they tend to over cook).

Fry thick sliced country bacon in the same pan you sautéed ramps for extra flavor.

Hungry now? What would you add? Let us know how yours turns out .

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?

Ready for a Grape Stompin’ Good Time?

When you think of a grape stomping, what comes to mind? The classic “I Love Lucy” episode where Lucy stomps and brawls in a vat of grapes? Same for us. However, the 20th annual, family-friendly Grape Stomping Festival in Summersville is all that and more, without the brawling of course.

Grape Stomping

Celebrate more than 20 years of winemaking at the Kirkwood Winery during the September 18 – 19 festival which also serves as a celebration of Appalachian artisans and music. Tours, music, artists and plenty of activities for the kids.

Learn About the Grape
Visitors can enjoy tastings, grape stomping and eating competitions, and learn more about southern West Virginia mountains that turn out those round, juicy pieces of goodness that later become great wine. Here just six acres produce more than 40 tons of grapes annually and the old family oak press is still used to produce more than 4,000 gallons of wine annually.

More than 30 different varieties of French Hybrid American varietal, mead, vegetable and other fruit wines will be on hand, in addition to their Isaiah Morgan whiskey. The event staff will help you learn more about the different varieties, suggest food pairings and you get to keep your tasting glass.

Bring The Family
The festival’s family-friendly atmosphere might surprise you most of all. The live music, cloggers and huge blow-up slides and mazes will keep the little ones happy all day long.

If You Go
Admission for adults age 21 and over is $10 which includes wine glass & tastings. Ages 12-20 are $5 and 12 and under are free. Also be sure to take a long a folding chair.

Have you stomped any grapes in your travels? If not, put this festival on your bucket list.

3 Don’t-Miss West Virginia Events For May

Here we go, everyone!  Spring has taken over southern West Virginia, and that’s just fine with us.

Why?  Oh, I don’t know… because it’s AWESOME?  Honestly, is there any better place in the world for spring?  If there is, no one’s discovered it yet.  Not because they haven’t looked.  It’s just that the search always brings them right back here.

Let’s all sing it together:  Country Roaaaaads, Take Me Hooooooooome….

That was beautiful.  Why doesn’t anyone go caroling in the spring?  Anyway, here are some great events to get you out and about this month.  And if you want to find more, they’re on our entire events calendar.  Enjoy!


A Universe Of Dreams

What else is great about Southern WV?  Well, there are plenty of mountaintops that are absolutely perfect for some nighttime stargazing.

But sometimes watching from here on Earth just doesn’t do the universe justice.  That’s when we bring something like, say, the Hubble Space Telescope.  And you know what makes it even better?  Really cool music from the Ensable Galilei.  And you need someone to narrate what you’re seeing, like Neal Conan from NPR’s Talk Of The Nation.

Now that’s the way to see the stars.  And if it isn’t quite making sense to you, don’t worry.  It will when you buy your ticket to the May 1st performance at Princeton’s amazing Chuck Mathena Center.  You will NOT be disappointed.


Bramwell Spring Tour Of Homes

Imagine a little mountain town filled with millionaires.  What kind of houses would they build there?

Bramwell Presbyterian Church

Cool ones.  Bramwell lives in a place that builds on our whole idea of community, and there’s no way to really “get it” without going there for a tour.  The houses, the town, the people there have a story that’s so unique in American history, it can only be told by experiencing it.

The Bramwell Spring Tour
is full of big homes, amazing architecture, and, um, bigger homes.  It’s the kind of thing you might expect to see leap out of a good book.  And yet there it is.  This year, the tour is on May 8th.


The Sweet Treats Dessert Festival

Got a sweet tooth?  Of course you do!  But you don’t want to go to the store and get something and take it home.  You want to share your affection for sweets with the world!

Good thing you can head over to the Sweet Treats Dessert Festival in downtown Beckley.  Expect awesomeness and fun of the sugared-and-chocolate-dipped variety, along with plenty of other fare for anyone interested in tasting the yummy-er side of southern West Virginia.

Plus there are other attractions at the festival, like inflatable jump castles for the kids and live music.  Should be a great time for anyone in the area.  And for anyone not in the area.  What we’re saying is, your proximity should not be a concern when it comes to chocolate.

Did we mention that proceeds go to Relay For Life?

Now you pretty much have to go.  If you ever wanted a good reason to have too much dessert, now you’ve got one.  Hope to see you there on May 22.

Once again, these are just three of the lots and lots (and lots!) of things going on across our lovely southern part of the Mountain State this May.  Check our events calendar for more.  Happy spring, everyone.

Top 10 Things To Do At Beckley’s Appalachian Festival

As big admirers of all things Appalachian, the Southern West Virginia CVB offers you up this list.  Come to the Appalachian Festival, and get your last

Quilts - Appalachian Arts & Crafts Fest

Quilts - Appalachian Arts & Crafts Fest

summer fun in the southern WV way!

•    Hillbilly Breakfast – Biscuits-n-gravy, and… well that’s all you need to  say    really (plenty of other stuff, too).
•    Arts and Crafts Fair – This is the 45th annual event, where you can find knicks, knacks, and pretty much every combination thereof.
•    Coal Mine Tour -  The tour goes on all the time, but there’s a deep discount (by showing your Appalachian Arts & Crafts Fair ticket stub) during the Festival!  It’s always worth going underground for this one.
•    Strolling Musicians -  It’s like a bluegrass mariachi band; just eat lunch in the park and enjoy the show.
•    Ghost Tours – Find out what the dead are up to in Uptown Beckley as you tour some beautiful homes with some frightful history right in town.
•   Live Music at Grandview – There’s nothing better on the last nights of summer that showing up at the outdoor amphitheater at Grandview for an outdoor show.
•    Flea Market - Everything from apples to stuffed zebras is on sale, and then some.  If you’re a bargain hunter, this is for you.
•    Kids Crafts – Traditional artisans show up to teach kids how to make something special with the soul of the mountains in it.
•    Taste Of Appalachia -  Everything worth eating in a 50 mile radius will be on hand to try out.  This is the perfect event for the appetite that wants everything.
•    Classic Car Show -  How did so many great cars wind up in southern West Virginia?  You’ll have to go to the car show to find out.  Worth every second.

Do you have other favorites?  Tell us…

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