By Tina Alvey
With the empowering theme of “A town built to carry on,” the western Greenbrier community of Rainelle is celebrating its centennial, and everyone is invited to the birthday party this weekend.
An opening ceremony, complete with a cake prepared specially for the event by the world-class pastry chefs at The Greenbrier, will kick off the festivities Thursday at 12:30 p.m. Special guests will be honored, as Mayor Andrea J. Pendleton welcomes all to the Town Hall/Heritage Park complex on Kanawha Avenue.
“We’ll have three exhibits set up at Town Hall for people to tour from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday and Friday,” Pendleton explains.
The exhibits include the locally-assembled Rainelle Reflections, as well as a portion of the West Virginia Division of Culture and History’s collection of memorabilia connected to the Meadow River Lumber Company and a separate exhibit exploring the region’s coal heritage.
Just up the road from Town Hall is the new Rainelle Elementary School, which opened earlier this year. The school will be open for tours at 4:30, 5 and 5:30 Thursday and again on Friday at 5, 5:30 and 6.
A unique treat is in store for history buffs, as folks are invited to don comfortable clothing and shoes and join Pendleton for the “Mayor’s Walk,” a series of one-hour strolls through town.
“The Mayor’s Walk will let me show off some of the town’s features that may surprise even longtime residents,” Pendleton says, adding, “We will see graves of early stagecoach passengers, the graves of (Rainelle founder) John Raines and his family and the foundation of a very early building.”
The Mayor’s Walks will originate at Town Hall beginning at 10 a.m. and continue throughout the day.
Also on Friday, crafters will be set up from noon to 4 p.m. at the Rainelle Medical Center, and the Rainelle Public Library will host an open house starting at 1 p.m.
Town Hall/Heritage Park will again be the focus of many events Friday, with a black lung information table set up from 2-4 p.m., and a cake walk starting at 5. A free concert by the Strum Sum Band will close out the evening, ending about 10 p.m.
Pendleton emphasizes that the concert is far from the only free event during this centennial celebration.
“In fact, thanks to our generous sponsors, the only charges are entry fees for some of the sporting events and whatever one gets from food and craft vendors,” the mayor notes.
Everyone enjoys a parade, and Rainelle will have a grand one on Saturday, Pendleton promises. Line-up begins at 9 a.m. at the U.S. Army Reserve Center, and the parade will get under way at 10.
Food vendors will set up at 9 a.m. at the Reserve Center, which is also the site for various performances by Glenn Singer — better known as his alter-ego “el Gleno Grande” — plus local vocalist Andre Williams and Eyes of Emiline.
Following the parade, those attending the celebration have their choice of kids’ games, face painting, a flea market and various sports events, including a muzzleloader competition that Pendleton says is attracting interest from a multi-state region. An archery shoot, horseshoe contest and a lumberjack exhibition put on by WVU rounds out the day.
Closing out the weekend celebration will be a free concert by Steele Country Band Saturday night from 6-10 at Town Hall/Heritage Park. Everyone is invited to bring a lawn chair or blanket and enjoy an evening under the stars.
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