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Durbin Days – a celebration for all ages

World War II veteran Don Jennings, left, served as the Durbin Days Heritage Festival Parade Marshal in the Grand Feature Parade Saturday. Charlie Sheets was his chauffeur. S. Stewart photo
World War II veteran Don Jennings, left, served as the Durbin Days Heritage Festival Parade Marshal in the Grand Feature Parade Saturday. Charlie Sheets was his chauffeur. S. Stewart photo

Suzanne Stewart
Staff Writer

Rain, wind and scorching heat didn’t deter community members and visitors from enjoying the annual Durbin Days Heritage Festival last week.

Carnival rides, good food, great music and events attracted a crowd of young and old as they joined together to celebrate the past and present of the town of Durbin.

Festivities kicked off Wednesday with the pet show. While the variety of talented and well-dressed dogs and cats were enjoyed by the crowd, the highlight of the event were the few unusual pets who made an appearance.

First, Emma Riffe’s box turtle, Shelly, was met by “oohs” and “ahhs” due to her stylish bedazzled shell.

Then, the barnyard animals took the stage. Aleea Carr and her donkey, Pearl, were lucky Aleea’s dad, Shawn, was on hand to help them get on to the stage. As Pearl struggled to climb the stairs, Shawn picked her up and placed her beside his daughter, to the delight of the crowd.

The last pet to take the stage was Newt, the goat, with his friend, Kinlee Bennett. Wearing matching red, white and blue accessories, the pair was a patriotic sight to behold.

Of the many dogs and cats to strut their stuff and show off their talents and style, Tommy Vandevander’s dog, Ralph, was the show stopper. He expertly followed Vandevander’s commands to sit, shake hands, roll over and speak.

The judges had their work cut out for them.

Winners in the pet show were: Most Talented, Most Obedient and Best in Show, Ralph and owner Tommy Vandevander. Best Dressed, Shelly the turtle and owner Emma Riffe. Most Unique, Pearl the donkey and owner Aleea Carr.

Wednesday evening culminated with karaoke and the most anticipated event of the year – the greased pig contest. Youngsters aged four to 15 did their best to beat the rest and grab hold of a running, squealing, greasy pig. Winners in each age category took home trophies and the pig they caught.

Greased pig winners were: boys and girls, ages four to six, Wesson Peck; boys and girls, seven to nine, Callie Propst; girls ages 10 to 12, Isabella Bauserman; boys ages 10 to 12, Jamie Vandevender; girls ages 13 to 15, Olivia McHugh and Emma Neill; and boys ages 13 to 15, Dakota Vance.

Thursday evening festival goers participated in a hay bale toss, cakewalk and bingo, while on Friday, there was a dime pitch and dunking booth.

An archery shoot was held Thursday with Justin Riffe taking first place in the men’s category and Ashley Tallman taking first in the women’s.

Musical entertainment Thursday evening was provided by Joseph Hott and the Short Mountain Boys.

Friday evening was on fire, as Main Street filled with fire trucks, ambulances and emergency vehicles, and volunteers and members of local fire and rescue departments were honored in the annual Fireman’s Parade.

The sirens were deafening and the lights blinding, but the crowd didn’t mind because these every day heroes were worth celebrating – the candy thrown from the trucks didn’t hurt either.

Local favorites, Richard Hefner and the Black Mountain Bluegrass Boys, took the stage Friday, with guest Mike Bing on mandolin.
The biggest day of the festival, Saturday, began with the horseshoe pitch and cornhole tournament. Whether they were tossing horseshoes or beanbags, participants were focused and ready to win.

Cornhole tournament winners were: first place: Cory Rexrode and Tommy Vandevander; second place, Coty Rexrode and Marka Kane; and third place, Doug Vandevander and Miranda Vandevander.

Horseshoes winners were: Men’s singles: first place, Kenny Sharp; second place, Charlie Brown; and third place, Tim Strewsberry. Women’s singles: first place, Jo Sharp; second place, Dorothy Morgan; and third place, Patty Felton.

Men’s Doubles: first place, Tim Strewsberry and Kevin Sanoski; second place, Kenny Sharp and Junior Sharp; and third place, Charlie Friel and Charlie Brown. Women’s Doubles: first place, Patty Felton and Sue Sharp; second place, Jo Sharp and Altin Sharp; and third place, Dorothy Morgan and Roxie Snyder.

In the early afternoon, the crowd returned to Main Street for the Car Parade and Grand Feature Parade. With the theme “Honoring Our Veterans,” the parade was led by members of the Pocahontas County Veterans Honor Corps.

Parade Marshal and World War II veteran Don Jennings wore his 82nd Airborne uniform and waved to the crowd from Charlie Sheets’ ATV. Following Jennings was his wife, Pat, dressed in patriotic attire.

Parade winners were: Commercial Vehicle: first place, Chris Taylor Trucking, LLC; second place, J&A Trucking, LLC; and third place, L&JW Trucking, LLC. Floats: first place, Durbin Days Heritage Festival 2016 Royalty; second place, Durbin Days Heritage Festival 2016 7-11 month old baby winner; and third place, Pocahontas County FFA.

Performance Groups: first place, Prestige Baton Group; second place, Pure Country Twirlettes; and third place, The Strutters. Horses: first place, Angela and Olivia Vandevender; second place, Phillip Propst P&B Trucking and Timber; and third place, Any Mine Horse Club, Joe and Ruth Pastine.

After the parade, Johnny Staats Project Band entertained the crowd with classic rock covers and a few bluegrass tunes.

Festival goers showed off their strength in the Tug-o-War competition Saturday evening. In the men’s category, S&S Enterprises’ team of Danny Kimble, Josh Lambert, Kurt Arbogast, Coty Rexrode and Jordan Greathouse were victorious.

Winning in the women’s category was the Mountain Mamas team – Tara Vandevander, Sally Arbogast, Melissa Nelson, Carey Barb and Holly Beaudon.

Saturday’s events culminated with a performance by Nina Sharp and the Hollerwood Band, followed by fireworks.

The festival wrapped up Sunday with a community covered dish dinner and entertainment provided by the Carr Family.

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