Bicentennial receives funds, develops plans for year-long celebration

The Pocahontas County Bicentennial Commission received four major donations toward the year-long celebration which will take place in 2021 through 2022. Left photo: The Pocahontas County Commission contributed $10,000 for the project. Pictured, l to r: Walt Helmick, CVB executive director Cara Rose, Jesse Groseclose and David McLaughlin.

Suzanne Stewart
Staff Writer

In December 2021, Pocahontas County will officially be 200 years old. To ensure the county’s “birthday” is celebrated to the fullest, community members and volunteers have been working together on the Bicentennial Committee to create a year-long, one-of-a-kind bash to end all bashes.

Pocahontas County Convention and Visitors Bureau executive director and Bicentennial Committee member Cara Rose said the information – and funding – is rolling in to make the celebration unforgettable.

The celebration will begin and end with Huntersville Traditions Day 2021 and 2022, in the original county seat. In between those two events will be historical re-enactments, art projects, public performances and much more.

“We’re going to have a signing of the bill – a mock signing of the bill on December 21, 2021, which is the actual birthdate of Pocahontas County,” Rose said. “We don’t have all those details worked out, but we will be planning. There will be a mock court [modeled after] the first court which will be held in March of 2022 and then in October of 2022, we’ll have a birthday – a first birthday celebration.

“It’s pretty ambitious to do a year-long celebration,” Rose continued. “We’ve done a lot of research. There are not many places that have taken on a year-long celebration, so once again, Pocahontas County is ahead of the curve on it.”

One of the lasting projects will be a county-wide art installation featuring trout sculptures. As the Birthplace of Rivers, Pocahontas County and its eight rivers will be honored with the sculptures.

“The public art project will be eight large trout statues that will be placed around the county in eight of our communities,” Rose said. “We’ve tied those eight community trout in with the eight rivers that are born in Pocahontas County.”

Snowshoe Mountain Resort and Snowshoe Foundation donated $5,000. From left: CVB representative Chelsea Walker, Mike Holstine, Bill McNeel, Ruth Taylor, Kristen Doss, Bob Sheets and Bill Jordan.

The Bicentennial committee has already received sponsorships for three of the trout sculptures. The first is a collaboration between Snowshoe Mountain Resort and Snowshoe Foundation for a trout which will honor the Shaver’s Fork of the Cheat. Green Bank Observatory is the second and will honor the Greenbrier River. The third is the Pocahontas County Commission, honoring the Elk River.

Rose said the committee hopes the communities of Huntersville, Hillsboro, Marlinton, Durbin and Cass, will also raise funds to sponsor a trout to be placed in a prominent location within their town limits.

“The trout sponsorships are five thousand dollars,” she said. “That sounds expensive, I’m sure, but what it really is, is a fundraiser for this broader celebration, as well as the costs involved with doing the trout.”

Once the sculptures are sponsored, it will be time for the communities to select an artist to design the trout.

“We’ll be working with artists around the county who would like to submit their portfolio and maybe even some designs of what their trout design might look like,” Rose said. “Then the communities who are buying into the art project can choose the artist that they would like to do their trout.”

Accompanying the sculptures will be a plaque including the artist’s name and the sponsor name(s).

There will also be smaller trout sculptures available for businesses to sponsor and display.

“The whole concept of this public art project is that people will go around the county, looking at these really cool art pieces,” Rose said. “They’re all connected. It will be a photo-op. Hopefully, it will generate a lot of social media, as well. Again, it moves people around the county.”

Also in the works is the official program for the year-long event. Included in the program will be a calendar of events, history of Pocahontas County and listings of premier events, special events and reunions.

“We’re going to have a listing of reunions happening during that year,” Rose said. “The Burner-Blackhurst Reunion has contributed five hundred dollars to the Bicentennial for their listing. It’s a challenge to other reunions over the course of the year to buy a listing and contribute to the Bicentennial project.”

Annual events that wish to be included – like Pioneer Days and Durbin Days Heritage Festival – must submit an application with dates and information for the events calendar. Each festival and event must also have a Bicentennial component.

“So, for instance, Pioneer Days needs to have a special Bicentennial event during Pioneer Days in 2022, on top of the regular events,” Rose said. “The only commitment that these festivals have to make is to do a special Bicentennial event during their event that year.”

There is also room for individuals or community organizations to do special events during the Bicentennial they can be included in the program.

“We’re looking forward to people coming forward,” Rose said. “We actually will permit special projects, as well. If an organization is interested in doing something special for the Bicentennial, all they have to do is fill out the form, say when it is, what they’re doing and be a hundred percent committed.”

Rose said she hopes to have all the information ready and printed by early 2021 in time for the events to begin, so submissions should be made as soon as possible.

“The program is really designed to have a little bit of content about the history of the county, obviously, but it’s also about promoting all the great things that are happening during the celebration year,” Rose said.

For more information on the Bicentennial, visit celebratepocahontas200.com

The Green Bank Observatory donated $5,000. Pictured, from left: Walker, McNeel, Taylor, Holstine, Sheets, Lauren Bennett and Jordan.
The Blackhurst-Burner Reunion donated $500. Pictured, from left: Holstine, Walker, McNeel, Sheets, Bennett, Taylor and Jordan.

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