West Virginia University has celebrated the state’s culture and heritage annually since 1947 with Mountaineer Week, one of the University’s most anticipated events and this year’s version, set for Nov. 7-15, has been honored as one of the top 20 events in the southeast by the Southeast Tourism Society.
“Mountaineer Week is organized with our WVU students in mind,” said Sonja Wilson, Mountaineer Week advisor. “We want to educate them on the culture and history of our great mountain state.”
This week will celebrate Appalachian heritage with events that emphasize Mountaineer pride and tradition, including the 75th Anniversary of Arthurdale, the Depression-era town championed by Eleanor Roosevelt.
“We hope to bring in thousands of visitors from our campus, community, state and region to enjoy our diversified Mountaineer Week programs that will encompass Appalachian cuisine, music, dance, programs and traditions,” Wilson said.
The week gets under way during halftime of the WVU-Louisville football game on Saturday, Nov. 7, with the naming of this year’s Mr. and Ms. Mountaineer.
Then things heat up on Monday, Nov. 9 with events like an Appalachian Folk Dance, the Country Vittles Dinner Buffet, the Beard Growing Contest and Family Fun Day.
West Virginians and students alike will be able to participate in activities that truly celebrate the spirit of West Virginia, and what it means to be a Mountaineer.
Appalachian heritage is in the air
There will be food, music and dance throughout the week.
Starting Monday, Nov. 9, various vendors throughout and around the Mountainlair will offer Appalachian treats, including Bavarian nuts, Kidwell’s Funnel Cakes and Treats and Wild West Kettle Corn.
On Friday, Nov. 13 and Saturday, Nov. 14 the WVU Collegiate 4-H Club will host a Corn Roast on the Mountainlair front lawn from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. On Friday night, the Country Vittles Dinner Buffet will be held at Hatfield’s in the Mountainlair from 5 – 7:30 p.m. Everyone is invited to come and purchase a ticket for this traditional Appalachian feast and enjoy the music of “Borne Old” performing throughout the event.
Immediately following the dinner, An Evening of Appalachian Music will be held in the Mountainlair’s Gluck Theatre. The program will focus on old-time, early country and bluegrass music that developed and prospered in the Appalachian Region.
The Fiddle Contest, presented by The Purple Fiddle and Bath Fitters and featuring some of the best fiddlers in the state and region, will take place Saturday, Nov. 14th at 7:30 p.m. in the Gluck Theatre.
Appalachian Folk Dance lessons will be given at Fieldcrest Hall on Wednesday, Nov. 11, at 7 p.m by a skilled group of WVU Collegiate 4-H Dance Ambassadors. Mountaineer Mascot Rebecca Durst will make a special appearance.
The 4-H Dance Ambassadors will also be presenting an Appalachian Dance exhibition on Saturday, Nov. 14, in the Food Court of the Mountainlair from 1:30-2 p.m. The group, formed in 2004, has performed at the Vandalia Gathering, State 4-H Camps and other special events.
75th anniversary of Arthurdale, the “Little Village” founded by Eleanor Roosevelt
During the Great Depression, Eleanor Roosevelt became aware of the extreme poverty in West Virginia coal mining towns and visited the area to see the depression firsthand. As a result, she became instrumental in the founding of Arthurdale, the first homestead community in the United States.
To commemorate the impact of Arthurdale on the coal mining towns of West Virginia, Patty Cooper, a West Virginia Humanities scholar from Parkersburg, W.Va., will portray Roosevelt and speak of her part in founding Arthurdale.
Cooper will present a speech in a History Alive Presentation to be held Thursday, Nov. 12 at 7 p.m. Following her speech, audience members will be able to ask questions and chat with Roosevelt. Cooper portrays the first lady each year at the New Deal Festival held at the National Historic District of Arthurdale.
A special exhibit featuring historical manuscripts, newspaper articles, ephemera and photographs depicting the conditions of Scott’s Run, where many of the residents of Arthurdale originally lived, will also be on display at 7 p.m. in Hatfield’s on Thursday, Nov. 12. The exhibit will be presented by Anna M. Schein, associate curator of the West Virginia and Regional History Collection at WVU Libraries.
On Saturday, Nov. 14, at 1 p.m. in Hatfield’s, local author Amanda Griffith Penix will give a pictorial history of “Arthurdale: Eleanor’s Little Village.”
A dramatic Arthurdale Reader’s Theatre, “Moments in Time,” will be presented on Saturday at 2 p.m. in Hatfield’s by Fairmont State University. The reader’s theater was written specifically for the 75th Anniversary Celebration of Arthurdale and is based on authentic letters, magazine articles and oral history. The program sets a magazine writer’s perspective, which sees Arthurdale as a failed experiment, against the memories of homesteaders who view Arthurdale as a dream come true.
There will be a second showing of the Reader’s Theatre at 3:30 p.m. in Hatfield’s on Saturday, Nov. 14.
Events steeped in Mountaineer tradition
Mountaineer Week Beard Growing Contest, presented by The Ridge and MedExpress, will culminate with the final beard-shaving event at noon on Wednesday, Nov. 11, on the Mountainlair Grand Staircase.
Students will arrive after growing their beards for three weeks in the hopes that they have the biggest beard. Cash prizes will be awarded for first ($100), second ($75) and third ($50) place. Mountaineer Mascot Rebecca Durst will emcee the event. The Beard Growing Contest has been a Mountaineer Week tradition since 1949.
The Mountaineer Week Craft Fair and Quilt Show are two events showcasing traditional craftsmanship of talented West Virginians.
“The Craft Fair is the center piece to Mountaineer Week. It’s a great opportunity to help local artists and gives people a chance to purchase some unique items they might not find everywhere,” said Erin Blake, fair advisor.
The opening ceremony for the Craft Fair will begin Friday, Nov. 13 at 11:30 a.m. in the Mountainlair Ballrooms. The keynote speaker for the event will be West Virginia Division of Culture Commissioner Randall Reid-Smith.
Smith is a West Virginia native, and is internationally renowned for his career in opera, and as a concert soloist and recitalist. The fair will be open until 8 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 13, and will continue on Saturday, Nov. 14, from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.
The Mountaineer Week Photo Contest, presented by The Ridge and MedExpress, allows students to showcase their creative photography skills, and present what West Virginia beauty means to them. The contest is open to all WVU students.
Three cash prizes will be awarded to winners for first ($100), second ($75) and third ($50) place. There will also be one People’s Choice winner, where students will get a chance to vote on their favorite photograph.
The photos will go on display in front of the Mountainlair information desk by Friday, Nov. 6. Students will be able to vote on their favorite photo throughout Mountaineer Week.
The PRT Cram, presented by The Book Exchange and MedExpress, a popular event with students, will be held on Monday, Nov. 9 in front of the Mountainlair. Students will try to cram as many people as possible into one single PRT car. The PRT Cram has been included in Mountaineer Week since the 1970’s.
The Mountaineer Week Scavenger Hunt will take place throughout the downtown campus on Monday, Nov. 9 at 3 p.m. WVU students, in teams of four, will have the chance to compete for a grand prize of $1,000 presented by Coca-Cola.
The Mountaineer Week Challenge Games, presented by MedExpress, will be held Tuesday, Nov. 10 at 4 p.m. on the Mountainlair Green. WVU student teams will be competing in five different events: tug o’war, apple cider pong, a three-legged race, pie eating contest and Coca-Cola cornhole contest.
“The Challenge gets students involved in Mountaineer Week. Student and Greek organizations compete against each other in Appalachian-theme competitions. Students can earn points by competing in the Challenge games, the scavenger hunt, entering the photo contest and much more,” said Michelle Goodliff, co-chairperson for Mountaineer Week.
There will also be a Mountaineer Week Obstacle Course, presented by ProPerformance and MedExpress, located on the Mountainlair Green on Wednesday, Nov. 11 at 4 p.m. Students will compete against each other to see who can finish the course in the least amount of time.
The final competition for Mountaineer Idol will be held Sunday, Nov. 8 at 3 p.m. in the Mountainlair Ballrooms. Each of the three finalists will sing three songs as they compete for the $1,000 grand prize. There will be guest appearances from past idol finalists and Jacob Sargeant, from Coca-Cola, will present the winner with their grand prize.
Family Fun Day
Family Fun Day, presented by Mylan Pharmaceuticals Inc., will take place at the Mountainlair on Saturday, Nov. 14. There will be various activities throughout the day for children and families to spend time together and enjoy Mountaineer tradition.
Most activities for the day will begin at noon and run until 5 p.m. There will be free popcorn and soda, donated by WVU Dining Services, and discounted bowling and billiards all day. At noon, there will be a magic show with Josh Knotts in the Mountainlair food court, appearances by the King and Queen Jellybean from the WVU Puppetry department, Mountain Echoes, storytellers performing a tale about animals native to West Virginia and games provided by WVU’s women’s softball team.
Crafting activities will begin at noon on the first floor of the Mountainlair, including Sand Art, Panning for Gemstones and Fossils and Airbrush Tattoos. The West Virginia Public Broadcasting group will present costume characters from the PBS children’s show “Super Why!” with Super Why and Princess Pesto.
As an added feature to Family Fun Day, an Afternoon with West Virginia Authors will top the list of feature presentations.
From 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., a premiere of the movie “Coal Country” will be shown in the Joseph Gluck Theatre. Immediately following, Dr. Shirley Stewart Burns will discuss the film and her books “Coal Country: Rising Up Against Mountaintop Removal Mining & Bringing Down the Mountains, the Impact of Mountaintop Removal Surface Coal Mining on Southern West Virginia Communities.”
From 2:30-3:30 p.m. in Hatfield’s, West Virginia author Gretchen Moran Laskas will discuss her juvenile historical fiction book, “The Miner’s Daughter,” presented by WVU Libraries.
All members of the student body, faculty, staff and community are invited to come out Nov. 7-15 and enjoy being a Mountaineer. For more information and a full schedule of events, visit www.mountaineerweek.wvu.edu or call the Mountainlair Administrative Offices at 304-293-2702.
CONTACT: Sonja Wilson, Mountaineer Week