Tag Archives: Spotlight

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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Recap – Taste-of-All Charleston 2014

By Dawn Nolan
Photography by Shawna Hatten
One of the first things you noticed when walking into the Charleston Civic Center on June 22 was the plethora of delicious smells wafting through the building. Over 20 vendors had gathered inside the Grand Hall to hand out scrumptious samples to hungry attendees in exchange for tickets at the annual Taste-of-All Charleston event. Sponsored by Mardi Gras Casino & Resort, the culinary tour of the Capital City featured dishes from new (Black Sheep Burritos and Brews, Grano, Mi Cocina de Amor) and well-known eateries (Ridge View BBQ, Ellen’s Homemade Ice Cream, Quarrier Diner). The majority of the food items cost between $2 and $4. Leftover tickets were donated to the Charleston Ronald McDonald House.

In addition to the savory and sweet food selections, the event included performances by Bare Bones, a local capella group, West Virginia Mountain Valley Cloggers and musician Ryan Kennedy.
An afternoon “Chef Off” pitted Chef Philip Bricker of the Charleston Marriott, Jeni Burns of Ms Groovy’s Gourmet Catering and Chef Andrew Quisenberry of Quarry Manor against each other in a timed competition with pre-selected, secret ingredients. In the end, Quisenberry’s bacon-wrapped pork roulade with spiced puffed potatoes, mushroom herb sauce and crispy kale salad won the judges’ (Bridget Lancaster, America’s Test Kitchen; Scott Maroney, Executive Chef, Mardi Gras Casino & Resort; Chef Paul Smith, Buzz Food Service; Don Wilson, Generation Charleston) approval.
The Amateur Cake Contest, judged by Sarah Plumley of Sarah’s Bakery; Lisa Dravenstott, executive pastry chef at The Civic

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Summer issue of Spotlight WV is coming to a location near you!

As Spotlight West Virginia approaches its third birthday this fall, we are excited to announce the release of our summer issue and its upcoming in-store debut (June 25 – locations TBA)! It is currently available to read online for free at http://goo.gl/ewpBtJ. Printed copies can also be ordered for a small fee.
In each issue of Spotlight West Virginia, readers can view stunning photography, community features and individual profiles. Here are just a few highlights of our current issue:

A visual profile on featured photographer Dana Gray, owner of Grayspace Studios
Appetizing articles on Dobra Zupas, Feast of the Ramson and Chestnut Brew Works
An in-depth profile on Kevin Sizemore, a Princeton native and actor who plays Gary Humphries on ABC’s hit show, Resurrection.
A written tour of the Beckley Art Center and its recent exhibit, Memento Mori
Previews on the upcoming Badland Bluegrass Country Festival (June 20 & 21) and Poor Farm Fest (August 1 & 2)
Profiles on country musician Autumn Blair and mixed media artist Andrew B. Mullins

As always, we thank you for reading and your overall support. Our fall issue will be released in mid-October. In the meantime, stay tuned to this site and our social media pages (www.facebook.com/spotlightwestvirginia) for exciting events, recent news and exclusives!

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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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“The World Wars,” History’s Latest Miniseries Filmed in West Virginia Premieres Memorial Day

Charleston, W.Va. – Narrated by two-time Oscar nominee Jeremy Renner, History’s “The World Wars,” principally filmed in West Virginia last fall, premieres Memorial Day, May 26, for a three-night broadcast. Pam Haynes, director of the West Virginia Film Office, said she is ecstatic that the Mountain State was chosen as the primary film location for a miniseries that showcases a 30-year period that changed the course of human history. “Stephen David Entertainment filmed for several weeks in numerous locations throughout the eastern panhandle, and we are honored that our state doubled for Germany, Mexico, France, Italy, Belgium, and many other countries.”
“This is the second time Stephen David Entertainment has chosen West Virginia for its prime film location,” Haynes said. “The same company filmed the Emmy Award-winning miniseries “The Men Who Built America” for three months during the fall of 2011 in the eastern and northern panhandle regions.”
“After shooting The Men Who Built America in West Virginia, I knew we would be coming back for The World Wars,” said executive producer Stephen David. “As if the Industrial Revolution hadn’t been a big enough challenge, this time we were staging not one, but two World Wars – tanks, explosions, trenches and more. It’s not easy to pull off that sort of epic scale production, and there’s no question, we couldn’t have done it without the cooperation of the West Virginia Film Office and the support of the state’s tax incentives.”
David added, “The World Wars takes place across 30 years, with key scenes

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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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