By Wendy Holdren
“Coal is part of our heritage, and part of who we are,” Tiffany Massie said Saturday during “Coal Miner’s Day” at the 10th Annual Friends of Coal Auto Fair at the YMCA Paul Cline Memorial Youth Sports Complex in Beckley.
She, and her mom, Carol Dameron, were selling West Virginia Coal Jewelry. Necklaces, bracelets, earrings, rings and even belt buckles adorned with sparkling pieces of coal were displayed at their booth.
“Almost all of us grew up with a coal miner in the family,” Massie said. “Coal has affected us all in one way or another.”
Dameron said she had been landscaping and stumbled upon some coal when she got the idea to transform it into fashionable jewelry. Pieces for both men and women were available.
“This is our first time here at the Friends of Coal Auto Fair,” Dameron said. “Coal really does keep the lights on, and I am so passionate about it.”
A few tents over, patrons could find 17 coal buckets filled with a variety of different goodies at the Friends of Coal Ladies Auxiliary booth.
Chairwoman Regina Fairchild said for a $1 donation, visitors could enter for a chance to win one of the 17 coal buckets. The proceeds will benefit the educational program “Coal in the Classroom.”
She explained that the program provides a six-week course to third and fourth graders to educate them about the benefits of coal.
Fairchild also noted that the Ladies Auxiliary was especially proud to be at the Auto Fair to help benefit youth programs at the YMCA of Southern West Virginia — “That’s what this is all about.”
YMCA CEO Jay Rist said Saturday really is the heart of the show.
“Today we celebrate the hard work of the coal miners on Coal Miner’s Day. We have some great weather for everyone to enjoy and we have great support here from the mining industry.”
Bobby Reese, with Sanshell Products, provided lunch for all the coal miners taking part in the mine rescue competition.
“We have teams to go through and see who can rescue downed miners the fastest,” Reese said.
He said this is a regular exercise for miners, as they need to be prepared in case of an emergency.
Scott Kinder served as the captain of one of the competing teams, and he was sporting a shirt showing that he and his crew won the 2012 West Virginia championship.
“It’s a good way to practice, and especially a good way to build camaraderie.”
He and two friends, Preacher Brown and Dave Green, have a combined 34 years of experience working as coal miners.
“I’m proud and blessed to be a West Virginia coal miner,” Brown said.
Green added that even though coal doesn’t get much support on a national level, he’s proud that Beckley supports their miners.
Many miners and their families were enjoying strolling through row after row of automobiles.
YMCA Marketing Director Jenni Canterbury confirmed that 470 cars were registered Saturday around 2 p.m. and she expected even more to roll in.
As usual, the car exhibitors are loving the event.
Kevin Bowling, of Beckley, has been attending the Friends of Coal Auto Fair for all of its 10 years.
This year, he brought his blue 1969 Chevelle Super Sport, which he said has won many awards.
“I love a good local show and I love to support the coal industry,” Bowling said.
Tammy and Charles Ward, of Hotchkiss, said their favorite automobile so far was a red ’Cuda.
Even if you didn’t bring a car of your own to the show, by donating blood at the American Red Cross bloodmobile, donors were entered to win a car from Ramey Automotive.
Scott Hill, with the American Red Cross in Beckley, said that Friday 20 people signed up to donate and he was expecting more for Saturday.
“Friends of Coal has given us a lot of help. Regina Fairchild brought us some donors.”
Hill said that the Auto Fair donations have helped, but the American Red Cross is still in “emergency need status.”
The next time to donate will be at the Inez O’Brien Donor Center from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information, call Scott Hill at 540-580-3908.
The Friends of Coal Auto Fair will wrap up today with the Awards Finale. Parking will be on-site and admission will be free.
A non-denominational church service will be held at 10:30 a.m. and the awards presentation will follow at noon.
— E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org