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Pioneer Days celebrates its 50th year

The pioneer-themed arts and crafts demonstrations drew a lot of attention over the weekend. At the quill and ink station, Margaret Worth sets out colored ink while kids use quills to practice their drawing skills. C. D. Moore photo
The pioneer-themed arts and crafts demonstrations drew a lot of attention over the weekend. At the quill and ink station, Margaret Worth sets out colored ink while kids use quills to practice their drawing skills. C. D. Moore photo

Cailey Moore
Staff Writer

After a rain-laden June, the sun made its return just in time for Marlinton’s 50th annual Pioneer Days celebration. Rain or shine, the streets of Marlinton come alive every July with the buzz and hum of cheerful chatter, laughter, and the musical stylings of local bands, and this year was no different. For four days, Pocahontas County guests and residents were treated to a midsummer celebration of local traditions and an undeniable sense of community spirit.

The festival kicked off Thursday evening with the Pocahontas County Humane Society’s annual Strut Your Mutt pet show. Community members gathered at the Marlinton Mini Park to showcase their pets in categories such as “Person/Pet Look-a-like,” “Most Original Costume,” “Best Trick,” “Most/Least Obedient” and more.

“I wasn’t sure what to expect at the pet show,” visitor Kristen Rand, of Wheeling, admitted, “but it turned out to be such a fun time. There were some very cute costumes out there. I loved the little cow and the pomeranian in the tutu!”

Following the pet show, owners and their pets banded together with Marlinton’s youth for a parade along Main Street. Main Street was then blocked off for an evening of fun with balloons and bubbles.

Friday and Saturday were filled with family-friendly competitions, contests, demonstrations, exhibits and more.

Residents and visitors alike were invited to try their hand at a variety of pioneer-styled crafts on the Marlinton Mini Park Gazebo’s lawn and at the Pocahontas County Opera House, as well. Each station had a different craft, and participants learned how to make candles; how to hand-churn ice cream; how to write using quill and ink; and more.

At the Wellness Center, a number of creative exhibits were on display – including the art and photography; food and flower; and the quilt and needlework contests. The history and spelling contests were held at the Pocahontas County Historical Society Museum, while a horseshoe pitching competition was held at the Mini Park, and the Pocahontas County High School Football Boosters set up a cornhole pitch in City National Bank’s drive through.

A large crowd gathered along the streets of Marlinton Friday evening in anticipation of the annual Fireman’s Parade, and on Saturday, it was the Antique Car and Grand Feature parade that drew the most attention.

People lined the sunny streets in anticipation of the parade’s start. The antique and classic cars came first, followed by Marlinton’s very own Cub Scout Pack #33 carrying flags and a group of re-enactors dressed in Civil War uniforms to segue into the Grand Feature portion of the parade.

Ruth Taylor, dressed in period dress, served as the Parade Marshal and was followed by a number of princes, princesses, teen queens and queens crowned during the year’s pageants. Pocahontas County businesses, organizations and residents were featured, as well.

“It was such a lovely parade,” Jo Benson, of Pennsylvania, said. “We hadn’t originally planned on coming down for the festivities, but I’m glad we changed our minds to. We’ve been to parades where antique cars have been featured, but we’ve never been to one with a history like Pioneer Days.”

Bennett and her husband are expecting their first child at the end of August and planned a weekend away – a “babymoon” – for just the two of them before they became a family of three. The Bennetts were staying at a friend’s condo at Snowshoe Mountain Resort when they first heard of the festivities.

The festival featured a variety of musical guests throughout the weekend. The Viney Mountain Bluegrass Boys and Powell Family Bluegrass took to the City National Stage Friday, while the Young & Restless Pickers, Rudy Elvis – an Elvis impersonator – and the Black Mountain Bluegrass Boys performed on Saturday.

The weekend finished off with traditional gospel music at the Old Log Church in Campbelltown.

The Pocahontas County Historical Society founded Pioneer Days in 1967 as an effort to preserve the area’s pioneer heritage. The festival flourished in the years following, and 10 years later, in 1977, the non-profit Pioneer Days Association was established to take over the festival’s organization and management. The event receives support from the several local groups and businesses – including the Dramas, Fairs and Festivals Committee and the Pocahontas County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Cailey Moore may be contracted at cdmoore@pocahontastimes.com

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