Tag Archives: Family Fun

Bridge Day Tandem BASE Jump Contest

By Dawn Nolan
Is there a cause that’s so close to your heart that you’d jump off a bridge for it?
Passes to BASE jump off the New River Gorge Bridge during the 35th annual Bridge Day celebration on October 18th might be sold out, but if you’d like to be one of the lucky adrenaline junkies hope is not lost! To celebrate the occasion, the Official Bridge Day Festival, in partnership with Verticial Visions and Subaru, is inviting the public to once again submit a video for a chance to win tandem BASE jump off of the New River Gorge Bridge during this year’s event and a $1,000 donation to a charity of their choice.
The rules are simple. Just submit a short video (no more than three minutes in length) that shows why you should be chosen to jump and upload it to the Bridge Day Facebook page by 11:59 PM on Tuesday, September 2. The video that gets the most votes between Wednesday, September 3 and 11:59 p.m. Wednesday, September 10 will win! Additional rules and regulations can be found at http://officialbridgeday.com/tandem-base-jump-contest.
Like the Bridge Day West Virginia Facebook page to learn more, submit and vote! Good luck!

Bridge Day Tips for First-timers
For those attending the Bridge Day for the first time (like myself), here are some tips courtesy of Cindy Dragan, chair of the Bridge Day Commission:

“Go early in the day.”

Things start to get crowded in the afternoon. So, the earlier you arrive, the better. The Bridge will close at

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Lilly Family Reunion Recap

For those with ties to Southern West Virginia, the “Lilly” surname is probably a familiar one. The family – whose lineage has been traced back through the 1600s to France – is one of the largest in the state, and its members played prominent roles in the history of Mercer and Summers Counties. Even though some of Robert Lilly’s descendents have migrated from their original stomping ground of Flat Top over the years, hundreds return each August for the annual Lilly Family Reunion.
The inaugural Lilly Family Reunion was planned in 1929 and held the following year in 1930. The family gathering was held annually thereafter until 1942 when World War II broke out. At that time, the event resembled more of a festival with grand-stand shows, carnival rides and thousands of attendees. The Reunion resumed in 1947 and continued for another two years before Abe Lilly, the organizer, became ill. A revival occurred in 1977 and the yearly get-together was back on track. In 2009, it was named the “World’s Largest Family Reunion” by the Guinness Book of World Records with 2,585 people in attendance.

This year’s celebration took place August 8 – 10. It was the Reunion’s 85th year, and despite the dreary weather which hampered this year’s attendance in comparison to the years past, dozens from across the country still made the trek, with Jim and Joan Meador, of Yorba Linda, CA, traveling the longest distance. The weekend kicked off on Friday evening with a home-style dinner buffet and

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Geocaching in West Virginia

By Dawn Nolan
“If you hide it, they will come.” – Geocaching.com
The concept is rather simple. Plug the specified coordinates into a GPS-enabled device to find a hidden container or similar object. Record and share your findings. That is geocaching in its most basic form. This “real world treasure hunt” has been sweeping the globe since 2000. In fact, according to geocaching.com, there are over two million active geocaches and more than 6 million geocachers worldwide.
West Virginia joined in on the trend in 2010, and since then, geocaching has become a welcome addition to the state, positively aiding tourism efforts and educating participants about our home. Explore WV, which formed in July 2010, is West Virginia’s “official geocaching enthusiast group”. Through their partnership with the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts, the West Virginia Division of Tourism and the West Virginia Division of Culture and History, several unique have challenges been established, including the Haunted WV Challenge, Main Street WV Challenge and West Virginia Geocoin Challenge. To learn more about Explore WV, check out http://www.geocachewv.com or email Robin Taylor, Program Director, at robin.j.taylor@wv.gov.

Geotrails (a series of caches tied together by a common topic or theme) have also formed across the state. The following is just a sampling. For the location of additional caches in our state, visit www.geocaching.com and search for “West Virginia”.

 The Coal Heritage GeoTrail, which kicked off in May 2010, is credited as being the first of its kind in West Virginia. Made up of sixteen caches,

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Recap – West Virginia Squares (full show)

By Dawn Nolan
Photography by Shawna Hatten
The original Hollywood Squares might have gone off the air in 1981, but fans of the game show were delighted when a twist of the entertaining hour was held during two evenings of this year’s FestivALL. Presented by the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame, “West Virginia Squares” was held on June 23 and 24 at The Clay Center. Huntington native Peter Marshall reprised his role as host. He began each evening with clips from the television classic, which was followed by musical performances from America’s Got Talent winner Landau Eugene Murphy, Jr.; Hee Haw Music Director Charlie McCoy, Donnie Davisson of the Davisson Brothers Band, Mountain Stage host Larry Groce and pianist Bob Thompson.
Monday’s cast was comprised of Charlie McCoy, Three’s Company’s (and original Hollywood Squares member) Joyce DeWitt, songwriter Billy Ed Wheeler, Tony Award winner Michael Cerveris, Landau Eugene Murphy, Jr., Larry Groce, Donnie Davisson, Chasing Nashville’s Autumn Blair and Bil Lepp, storyteller and five-time winner of the West Virginia State Liars’ Contest. Charleston Mayor Danny Jones, Miss West Virginia, Charisse Haislop, and radio host Steve Bishop joined the history-centered show on Tuesday. Broadcasting Hall of Famer, Bob Brunner served as the shows’ announcer.

Each evening’s questions centered on WV music and state history, and the contestants were students and 2014 Golden Horseshoe Award winners from Raleigh, Calhoun, Lincoln and Boone County. Winners received prizes from local businesses and tourist attractions. West Virginia Public Broadcasting filmed the episodes and is planning on distributing

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Event Preview: Fly Fishing Clinic at Cass

Written by Dawn Nolan
Amateur and educated anglers are invited to take part in the Fly Fishing Clinic at Cass Railroad State Park this Friday (May 31) and Saturday (June 1). “The idea incorporates a popular location that we only travel to a few times a year on our train schedule,” says Monica Fleming, the park’s event programmer. “It is also a chance to attract customers that may not normally ride the train with something that is popular in our county. For beginners, the clinic is beneficial because it opens up a new way to enjoy the Cass area by fly fishing which can be done at any time of the year. For the experienced fly fishermen, this experience will be unique because we will be casting in a section of the [Cheat] River that many may not get to experience otherwise because of its remoteness.”
Led by instructors Biff Healy, Jeffery Steltzer and James Rainey, students will be introduced to the fundamentals of fly fishing including types of equipment and use, stream ecology, history and techniques. On Sunday, participants will depart Cass for Spruce to put their knowledge into action. “The section of Shaver’s Fork that we are fishing is generally only accessible by train,” adds Fleming.
Interested individuals have through Friday, May 30 to register; however, only a limited number of spaces are available. The cost for the weekend workshop is $250 (company house rental not included), and participants must have a WV fishing license with trout and national forest stamps.

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Event Preview: Bollywood Night 2014

Written by Dawn Nolan
Bollywood Night 2014 is a “celebration of Indian food, movies, dance music and fashion”. This year’s fundraiser will be held at the Charleston Civic Center on Saturday, May 17. This year’s theme is “Bellies, Bodies and Brains”. Proceeds will be divided between three non-profit organizations – Manna Meal, WV Health Right and the Kanawha Pastoral Counseling Center.
“From Those to Whom Much Has Been Given, Much is Expected” – Nilima Bhirud, Chairwoman
The festivities begin with a social hour at 6:00 p.m. A buffet dinner of “delicious, multi-cultural cuisine” will follow at 7 p.m. Bollywood style performances by 100 dancers, including the Charleston Ballet, January’s Dance Studio, Lisa Hughes’ students, Zumba instructor Amy Burdette and partner, Beth Fellure and friends, Victoria Russo’s Latino dance group and the Charleston Filipino community, will take place from 8:00 – 9:00 p.m. A fashion show, choreographed by Meenu Choudhary, and silent auction are also scheduled.
Tickets for Bollywood Night 2014 are $100 and tax-deductable. They can be purchased online at www.bollywoodwv.org.
(Video from bollywoodwv.org)
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oy_GVP3XuLY&w=640&h=360]

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Event: WV Strawberry Festival

Written by Dawn Nolan
Springtime marks the beginning of festival season in West Virginia, and the Mountain State has plethora of food-centered festivities – whether you’re craving chocolate, ramps or even fresh fruit. One of the oldest celebrations, the WV Strawberry Festival, is taking place in Upshur County this week. “The WV Strawberry Festival began in 1936 when the Buckhannon community wanted to honor our local strawberry farmers and give them an opportunity to sell their berries,” recounts Laura Meadows, Executive Director of the Upshur County Convention & Visitors Bureau.
This year’s festival runs through Sunday, May 18, and its theme is “Old Traditions, New Beginnings”. “We have so many traditional, time honored events like the Strawberry Blonde contest that has happened for years, but as we’ve grown, the Strawberry Festival has added some new events, like the Horse & Carriage Parade,” explains Meadows. “We will hold on to the traditions everyone has grown to love but want to keep the Strawberry Festival a fresh, new and exciting time.”

Want the 2014 Strawberry Festival Program? Stop by our Chamber & Visitors Center on Main Street, Buckhannon to get a copy for $3!

One of the week’s most enjoyable activities, Party Gras, is scheduled for Friday, May 16 and Saturday, May 17. “Main Street is closed down, and we have live music and entertainment,” says Meadows. Other popular attractions are Strawberry Idol, a singing competition held in the Courthouse Plaza and the long-running Arts & Craft Show at WV Wesleyan College. “It’s always a favorite;

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Eat Local: The Mason Jar

Written by Dawn Nolan
In downtown White Sulphur Springs, less than a mile from the famed Greenbrier Resort, stands The Mason Jar, a charming little restaurant known for its laid-back atmosphere and hearty comfort food. “We serve upscale, home-style cuisine that mom and grandma used to make,” describes Chef Adam Sydenstricker. Specialties include the restaurant’s famed Buttermilk Fried Chicken (which has been featured on the Travel Channel) complete with green beans, mashed potatoes and gravy; MJ’s Fried Green Tomatoes served with spicy mayo, Mason Jar Chicken & Dumplings, and the Mason Burger, a beef patty topped with grilled ham, American cheese, lettuce, onion, tomato, pickles and dressing. The homemade pies – available in apple, blueberry, blackberry, cherry, peanut butter and coconut cream – are also a hit, and adventurous eaters can complete the Triple Cheeseburger Challenge to win a free dessert.
Sydenstricker, a former Greenbrier chef, took ownership of the eatery about two years ago. “The original restaurant opened in 2008,” he recalls. “I was working at the hotel at the time but started helping the owner at night. We developed a relationship, and he later asked if I’d like to buy the place. We opened in our current spot in July 2012.”

In addition to a full menu, The Mason Jar also offers a lunch buffet Monday – Friday from 10:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., an all-you-can-eat Southern BBQ buffet on Saturdays from 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. and a breakfast / brunch buffet on Sundays from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

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Event Preview: Lemonade Day West Virginia

Written By Dawn Nolan
Most children get their first taste of business through conventional methods – bake sales, car washes, and of course, lemonade stands. West Virginia Lemonade Day, which will be held May 3, 2014, expands upon the lessons learned during these activities, providing registered participants with the tools needed to create and execute their own business plan. “Lemonade Day is an entrepreneurship curriculum geared towards elementary and middle school students,” says Matthew Thompson, CNP, Program Director at Vision Shared Inc. “They learn about setting goals, planning for success, investing, advertising, buying and maintaining supplies, building a stand, making a product, budgeting and accounting, opening a bank account and giving back to the community.”
Classrooms, church groups, Girl and Boy Scout troops and other aspiring business owners will have stands set up all over the state. “They can choose the location that is best for them,” says Thompson. “Most will be in high traffic areas like grocery stores, parks or festivals.” A full map of stand locations is available on the Lemonade Day West Virginia website.

Once the participants close up shop, sellers must determine how they want to spend their hard-earned profits. “They can use the money how they wish, but we encourage them to save some, spend some and share some,” explains Thompson. “That’s our mantra.”
The nationwide event was established in 2007; however, it is the second year that West Virginia has been involved. “Last year was our pilot program,” recalls Thompson. “We had about 2,000 kids participate around the

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Event Preview: Badlands Bluegrass Country Festival

Written by Dawn Nolan
Carolyn Stephens – Festival Promoter
Pull on your boots, pack some supplies and make your way to the mountains because the Badlands Bluegrass Country Festival returns to the Poor Farm Fairgrounds in Williamsburg on June 20 and 21. This year’s lineup includes performances by The Hackensaw Boys, The Wild Rumpus, Deer Run Drifters, Black Iron Gathering, Fox N Hounds, Black Horse Band, Sky Smeed, Mountain Station and The Wolf Creek Band. “We try to have about 1/3 of the bands be from the local area, another 1/3 from the state and then some regional or a national act,” says Carolyn Stephens, festival promoter. The revelry kicks off at 5 p.m. on Friday, June 20. A complete schedule is available online at www.badlandsbluegrass.com/music.

Headliner: Hackensaw Boys

Proceeds from the event benefit the restoration of McCoy Fort, a colonial structure in Greenbrier County. “A favorite pastime of mine is historic preservation,” explains Stephens. “I’m involved with the Williamsburg District Historic Foundation, and we were trying to come up with a way to raise money to match the funds from grants.” For Stephens, that was what first sparked the idea of a music festival.

The Wild Rumpus

After having a permanent stage constructed on her family’s farm in 2011, Stephens organized the first annual Poor Farm Fest. The inaugural Badlands Bluegrass Country festival followed in 2012. Thanks to the attention and funds the events have drawn, archaeological work site has been done on the site, the Fort has been dismantled and tagged and the project

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