Mountaineer Week, West Virginia Universitys annual celebration of all things Appalachian, has joined the ranks of NASCAR and pro bass fishing as top events to attend in the southeastern U.S. this fall.

The week was named aTop 20event for October-December 2005 by the Southeast Tourism Society, an Atlanta-based organization that rates festivals and gatherings in 11 states: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia.

The �€~Top 20events represent the best the Southeast has to offer,said Stephanie Brown-Newton, who coordinates the rankings from the societys Atlanta offices.

This is the third year running Mountaineer Week has made the list, a string WVU s Sonja Wilson is proud of, since three years ago was the first year she submitted the event to the society for consideration.

Itll be the 58 th year for Mountaineer Week when it comes along Oct. 30-Nov. 6,said Wilson, who coordinates the WVU celebration every year,and it just keeps getting better and better.

To be nominated, an event must be in at least its third year of operation while drawing at least 1,000 people.

Were very thrilled and gratified,she said.This is our third year in a row making a prestigious list. Making the Top 20 means you really get your name out to a lot of people.

The society sends the list to more than 400 media outlets and AAA publications in its 11-state region, Brown-Newton said.

The combined circulation of those outlets runs into the millions,she added.

Mountaineer Week is sharing the list with events including NASCAR s Nextel Cup Series Races in Alabama, the Clearwater Jazz Festival in Florida, Georgias Bass Pro Shops MBNA 500 Event Weekend and the Chefs of the Coast Food&Wine Festival, in Mississippi.

West Virginias famedBridge Dayat the New River Gorge also made the list.

Mountaineer Week features traditional favorites like fiddle contests, funnel cakes and the trademark beard-growing competition. But this years lineup also includes the finals of the campus-wideMountaineer Idoltalent competition, a Halloween party and scavenger hunt.

Mountaineer Week was founded in 1947 by then student body president Arch Moore, who would go on to serve as West Virginias governor in later years.