Fishing for a historic bicentennial

Inspired by Pocahontas County’s fame as “The Birthplace of Rivers,” the Bicentennial Committee chose the trout as a symbol for the upcoming bicentennial celebration. Eight large sculptures, representing the eight rivers in Pocahontas County, will be installed throughout the county. Smaller sculptures may be sponsored and purchased by private citizens and businesses to add to the county-wide art project.

Laura Dean Bennett
Staff Writer

Pocahontas County’s Bicentennial celebration, which will take place beginning in the fall of 2021, has the Bicentennial Committee making plans.

This bicentennial celebration promises to be a yearlong extravaganza, the likes of which few counties have ever seen.

Many exciting events and activities are slated to take place during 2021-2022 and, appropriately enough, there will also be trout – trout sculptures, that is.

Besides being known as “The Birthplace of Rivers,” Pocahontas County is also known as one of the state’s preeminent destinations for trout fishing.

That’s why it seems natural to feature these two Pocahontas County claims to fame in a project called “The Birthplace of Rivers Public Art Project.”

“We want this project to capture everyone’s imagination,” said Cara Rose, Executive Director of the Convention and Visitors Bureau and member of the Bicentennial Committee.

“It’s designed to reach across all of our Pocahontas County communities.

“The project showcases our communities and the rivers in our county.”

The fiberglass sculptures will take the form of a jumping trout and will represent the eight rivers which have their headwaters here.

The sculptures will be approximately four feet long, stand nearly six feet tall when mounted and installed and will be painted by various local artists.

The commission’s bicentennial preparations have been affected by the current Covid-19 restrictions, but they have not, by any means, been stopped.

“The Covid-19 emergency has delayed delivery of the blank trout sculptures, but our project is definitely moving forward,” Rose said. 

“These trout installations will celebrate Pocahontas County’s bicentennial, promote our county as a tourist destination and provide convenient public photo ops for visitors and locals alike.”

Like the Quilt Trail, the sculptures will move visitors around the county during the bicentennial, and, afterward, they will remain in the communities.    

“Besides being a way to memorialize our bicentennial and benefit tourism, we also see this project as a way to recognize our bicentennial sponsors and the superior artists we have in our community,” Rose explained.

 “We are so grateful for the sponsors who have stepped forward to take part in this project. 

“Their sponsorship will make this project a success and help put Pocahontas County’s Bicentennial celebrations on the map.”

The Pocahontas County Commission is sponsoring the trout sculpture representing the Elk River, which will be placed at the county courthouse.

Snowshoe’s trout sculpture sponsored by Snowshoe Mountain and the Snowshoe Foundation will honor the Shavers Fork.

The sculpture to be placed in Cass will represent the Cherry River and is sponsored by Southern States Cooperative.

Huntersville will be home to the trout representing Williams River and will be sponsored by Pendleton Community Bank.

Marlinton’s trout sculpture, representing the Cranberry River, is being sponsored by Russell Jesse and Cinnamon Mitchum in memory of their families.

Green Bank’s trout is sponsored by the Green Bank Observatory and will honor the Greenbrier River.

Two communities have been designated to receive a trout sculpture – Hillsboro and Durbin –but they have no sponsors, as yet. The Tygart and Gauley rivers have yet to be assigned to a community.

The cost of sponsoring each community trout installation is $5,000.

“The Birthplace of Rivers public art project sponsors are to be congratulated,” Rose said.

“Their contributions will be permanently memorialized on each trout installation.”

Like the trout they will be painting, artists are encouraged to – if you’ll forgive the pun – “leap” at the chance to be part of this historic bicentennial project.

“We have had several artist inquiries and two submissions, so far,” Rose said.

“I’m looking forward to hearing from some other people who’d like to try their hand at painting one of our trout.

“You don’t have to be a professional artist to be considered.

“We’d be happy to consider any member of our local artists’ groups, current or former art students or anyone in Pocahontas County who’d like to submit samples of their work.” 

Call Rose for an information packet.

There’s no deadline, but those interested in participating, whether as an artist or a sponsor, are urged to get in touch with her as soon as possible.

Potential artists or sponsors should call Cara Rose at 304-799-4636 or 304-618-4020.

Laura Dean Bennett may be contacted at ldb@poca

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