Laura Dean Bennett
For 61 years, the Community Educational Outreach Service (CEOS) clubs of Pocahontas County have selected one member to be the “Pocahontas County Belle” and represent the CEOS and the county at the annual West Virginia Folk Festival in Glenville.
Celebrating its 69th year, the festival seeks to preserve and honor the traditional pioneer way of life in West Virginia.
Old-time music and singing, square dancing, storytelling, crafts and food preparation share the spotlight as participants, guests and the honored ladies from each county of West Virginia come together to keep West Virginia’s cultural heritage alive and well.
Each county is invited by the West Virginia State Folk Festival Belle Committee to send a representative to the festival.
The “belles” must be at least 70 years old and demonstrate the importance of home and family in preserving our culture, traditions, moral values, crafts and work skills.
They are sponsored by various community organizations, but mostly by CEOS of the West Virginia University’s Extension Service.
This year’s Pocahontas County Belle is Kay Bosquet, a member of the Edray CEOS Club.
She is a resident of Marlinton and has deep roots in Pocahontas County.
Both sides of her family were early settlers here, having come to Pocahontas County in the 1860s.
Bosquet grew up in Virginia, coming to visit relatives in Pocahontas County during school vacations and holidays.
Her mother was Mary Hunter McLaughlin Miller of the Hannah family of Dunmore, and her dad was Harry Miller, of the Millers of Dunmore, and he was born in a Cass company house.
After graduating high school and Smithdale Massey Business College in Virginia, Bosquet held numerous administrative assistant posts – most notably at King’s Dominion and in the Sheriff’s Office in Hanover County, Virginia.
She and her late husband had four children and five grandchildren.
Bosquet moved to Marlinton in 2007 to care for her mother.
She is a member of Baxter Presbyterian Church in Dunmore, and a member of Pocahontas County Senior Citizens, where she volunteers.
Bosquet recently represented the Senior Citzens at the Lewisburg Chocolate Festival.
She is secretary of the Edray CEOS Club and recently joined the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program.
Gardening and working with her flowers, cooking, canning and traveling are her favorite hobbies.
Bosquet is proud to be related to so many families in Pocahontas County.
“Your family roots are what it’s all about,” she said.
She was quite delighted to represent the county in Glenville at the folk festival.
“I’m a people person,” she added. “I just really enjoy listening to and talking to people. It was a pleasure to meet so many nice people and make so many new friends.
“All weekend in Glenville, when people saw I was from Pocahontas County, it was so nice to hear them say: ‘Oh, you’re from Pocahontas County!’ like it’s a really special thing, which, actually, it is.
“They’d mention our recreation, but also our festivals – ‘We’ve been to your Pioneer Days,’ they’d say.
“Or they’d tell me they’d been to the Autumn Harvest Festival and Road Kill Cook-Off or Little Levels Heritage Festival or to Huntersville Traditions Day.
“It makes you feel good to know that Pocahontas County is known for being a really great place to visit.”
Last year’s Pocahontas County Belle was Bosquet’s cousin, Sharon Fisher, of Green Bank.
She and Edray CEOS president, Barbara Shinnaberry, served as Bosquet’s companions, traveling with her to Glenville and all the festival events.
After a three and a half hour drive, they arrived in Glenville Friday morning and were the guests of the Folk Festival for all the weekend’s events.
Everything was perfect, except that the weather was a little on the uncooperative side – it rained off and on all weekend.
“There were 4-H kids there to help us with our luggage, and everything was first class,” Bosquet said.
“Whatever we needed, if we had any questions, there was always someone on hand to help us.
“Everyone was so friendly.
“Everyone at the festival treated us like we were royalty.
“All weekend long, all through the town, when people saw us in our sashes, they welcomed us and let us know that they were glad to have us there.”
She says she was proud to represent the CEOS Clubs of Pocahontas County, of which there are three: Edray, Hillsboro and Minnehaha Springs.
The CEOS club was formerly knowns as Homemaker’s clubs and before that were called the Farm Women’s Club.
CEOS is affiliated with the Extension Service of West Virginia University which provides members with lots of up-to-date educational materials on just about any subject in which they may be interested.
“More ladies should join CEOS,” Bosquet said.
“We enjoy our meetings. We always have covered dish meals together. And I especially enjoy going to the area meetings and hearing about what’s going on in other counties.”
The Edray CEOS club helps provide T-shirts for 4-H camp every year.
They raise money for the library, the Senior Citizens Meals-On-Wheels program, and many other worthy local causes.
“It’s so rewarding to know that we can make a difference in our communities,” Bosquet said.
Kay believes that the CEOS mission is key to the future of our counties and our state.
That mission is – “to strengthen the home and positively influence our communities through leadership and volunteerism.”
Our belle and her companions enjoyed all of the events in which they took part during the festival.
They met Friday afternoon at the home of Ike and Sue Morris, who host a tea each year for the belles.
The belles were met and graciously welcomed by Mrs. Morris and given a tour of the Morris’ beautiful home and surrounding manicured gardens and grounds.
Mr. and Mrs. Morris have been sponsors of the Folk Festival for several years.
Saurday’s Folk Festival parade was one of Bosquet’s favorite activities.
“Although it rained off and on all weekend, thank goodness the rain held off for the parade,” she said.
“I was really impressed by the veterans color guard that led us through the parade route.”
Another favorite activity was the gospel sing led by Ginny Hawker at the Trinity United Methodist Church on Main Street.
“They sang a cappella and their voices were marvelous,” Bosquet said.
The belles were in attendance at three Glenville churches during the festival.
After the parade they were invited to the Glenville Baptist Church.
They were treated to an early morning breakfast at the Glenville Presbyterian Church Sunday morning after which the belles and their companions attended an early morning Sunday service at a historic log church called Job’s Temple.
The log sanctuary has been restored to its original pioneer day glory – no electricity and nothing modern.
“There was something so special about worshipping in that old log church,” Bosquet said. “I sometimes think I would have loved living a hundred years ago. It was a simpler, basic life.
“Families were closer to each other, and we depended on our neighbors more. And we were more involved with our churches.
“Back in the day, I can remember it seemed that all the churches were full. These days, it’s too bad – so many young people aren’t members of churches anymore.”
Bosquet made a lot of new friends, and brought home a lot of memories.
“It was a great honor to represent Pocahontas County at the folk festival,” she said.
Bosquet reflects on the life which brought her fill circle, back to her family home in West Virginia.
“There’s a strong moral fiber to the people here that is so impressive,” she said. “We are good people, and we are good neighbors.”
When asked to describe her greatest accomplishment in life, she is quick to respond:
“I would have to say, that would be my children,” she said. “They are surely the jewels in my crown.”
Spoken like a true Pocahontas County belle.