Five years ago, the seed was planted by former county resident Gibbs Kinderman who contacted Pocahontas County Convention and Visitors Bureau executive director Cara Rose and asked how the county’s Bicentennial would be celebrated.
From there, that seed grew when the Pocahontas County Commission appointed a Bicentennial Commission, and the plans sprouted into a year-long event beginning in 2021.
“I’ve been reflecting a little bit on it, and I do think that we had an exceptional Bicentennial celebration,” Rose said. “We’ve been really fortunate to have so many great people working on it from day one who were really, truly committed to creating a great celebration.”
At one point, there was concern the celebration would be derailed by the COVID-19 pandemic, but the commission continued to meet through Zoom and managed to complete plans for the celebration with just a few events being canceled or rescheduled.
“Our kickoff event was slated to be Huntersville Traditions Day 2021 and that did get postponed,” Rose said. “We were fortunate enough to have the December event that was really the beginning of Pocahontas County’s creation, so we officially kicked it off December 21, 2021.”
Prior to that event, the eight trout sculptures – which became the centerpiece of the celebration – were unveiled at the Pocahontas County Opera House in August 2021.
The trout sculptures and Bicentennial logo were both selected to symbolize Pocahontas County and its moniker “Birthplace of Rivers.” The eight rivers that have their headwaters in Pocahontas County – Cherry, Cranberry, Elk, Gauley, Greenbrier, Tygart, Williams and Shavers Fork of the Cheat – were represented by the trout sculptures which have been installed in communities throughout the county. The logo features a trout jumping out of a river which converge under the dates 1821-2021.
“It all started with the logo design which Paul Vosteen did for us,” Rose said. “The concept was presented by Mike Holstine, essentially. We had a lot of ideas, but ultimately the final logo came from something that he had presented, and we loved it. It’s built around the trout and our Birthplace of Rivers and Paul Vosteen did a great job actually capturing that vision of what we wanted it to be.
“Then Katy Gay, who was an AmeriCorps for us for a short while, came up with the trout sculptures and that really set the stage for what our event would be framed around,” she added.
The Bicentennial celebration included all the annual fairs and festivals throughout the year including Little Levels Heritage Fair, Pioneer Days, Durbin Days Heritage Fair and Autumn Harvest Festival and RoadKill Cook-off, as well as other special events and performances.
“The commission really got our communities involved and put on a lot of unique events that were only designed for the Bicentennial,” Rose said. “One of those events that has some staying power is the “Saga of Cass,” the Cass play and also the historical rendition of Pocahontas County that we put on at the Opera House. J.T. Arbogast and Kim Dilts led that charge.
“The other two performances that really enhanced the event were the two Pearl Buck events,” she continued. “Missy [McCollum] was fantastic. She is a powerhouse for History Alive! and hopefully, that will continue. The play that Cathy Sawyer did – the one woman play – was simply amazing, as well.”
The celebration somewhat wrapped up at Huntersville Traditions Day two weeks ago, but there are still several projects that aren’t quite finished.
The six time capsules are to be buried and have plaques that will be placed above ground to mark where they are.
“They are to be opened in 2072,” Rose said. “We didn’t want to do it too far down the road. We’re going to open them in fifty years. I won’t be there to see it, but I encourage my daughters to be a part of that, for sure.”
The two Bicentennial quilts which were pieced together with blocks made by local quilters, will be displayed in the courthouse, along with framed copies of proclamations and resolutions, which were formalized in December 2021.
“Those will be framed, and we’ll have a ceremony of some sort for the quilts and those proclamations at some point,” Rose said.
“I’m thinking perhaps it will be December, just to wrap it all up neatly. They will be there permanently, and I’m really looking forward to that.”
There are also Christmas ornaments with the Bicentennial logo that are for sale at the CVB office and will be available at the Christmas at Cass craft show and Opera House Christmas Craft Show.
As she reflects on the past year and all the events that took place, Rose said she is so proud of the Bicentennial Commission for all the work and effort the members put forth.
“I think they have created a legacy for our county,” she said. “You’d be hard pressed to find a destination, a town, a county, who has had a bigger Bicentennial celebration than Pocahontas County. Most places aren’t willing to take on a year long event, but we were – from the beginning.”
Copies of the free Bicentennial Magazine as well as the commemorative Christmas ornament ($20) are available by calling the Pocahontas County Convention and Visitors Bureau at 304-799-4636, the CVB Facebook page and on their website naturesmountainplayground.
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