The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Local News

March 2, 2013

Rocket Boys Festival readies for liftoff

BECKLEY — The Rocket Boys Festival 2013 held its second meeting of the season Friday to finalize committees and discuss all the exciting opportunities for this year’s festival.

Festival Director Scott Hill said 20 people came out for the meeting and they worked to confirm plans for committees, including entertainment, facilities and the writer’s workshop.

“Entertainment is being expanded. We’re still negotiating contracts. It won’t be big-time names, but it will be a fun entertainment group.”

He said the essay contest is now open to all middle school-age students in private and public schools throughout the world, but they will have to be in Beckley to present their idea and accept their award.

They decided to change the rules to include students outside the state after an Ohio man brought students to the festival and wanted them to be able to participate in the contest.

A topic has not yet been decided for this year’s essay contest, but Hill said Homer Hickam has already sent in his list of suggestions.

“As of this point, all festival sponsors from last year are signing back up for this year.”

He said both West Virginia University and Marshall University have expressed interest in participating this year, in addition to Virginia Tech and New River Community and Technical College.

As for the fire hydrants, Hill said they will offer them first to the sponsors who adopted them last year. Starting around March 15, if previous sponsors do not want to adopt again, other folks will have a chance.

Fire hydrant adoption is $150 and the rules are the same as last year — hydrants must be painted with the theme of education, coal, rockets or community service.

Half of the proceeds will benefit the United Way of Southern West Virginia, and the other half will go toward the Rocket Boys Festival 2014.

Hill said they are always looking for volunteers, so anyone who would like to help out is invited to e-mail him at

“It’s always reassuring when the good people out in the community come together to make something wonderful happen. The Rocket Boys Festival is something a lot of people have put a lot of time in. My voice gets heard a lot, but I do a small portion. The ‘we’ is greater than the ‘me’ in this. The Rocket Boys Festival is a perfect example.”

The website,, has been revamped with lots of photos and has updated information pertaining to the 2013 event.

The next meeting will be at 5 p.m. April 2 at the American Red Cross office in Beckley. Hill said many educators in the area had expressed interest in attending, so a later meeting time has been arranged.

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