Annual Kids Classic Festival returns to Beckley

Alice Canterbury drives a Barbie truck at the Kids Classic car show on Prince Street in Beckley last year. In the bottom photo, Kaylee Hansen emerges from a tube obstacle as she hustles around the junior firefighters challenge course during the Kids Classic Festival last year. Clifford the Big Red Dog, at right, waves to the crowd gathered along Neville Street while riding at the front as the grand marshal of the Kids Classic Parade last year.File photos

Southern West Virginian families highly anticipate the return of the 26th Annual Kids Classic Festival, a multi-day, community-wide festival offering numerous family activities while involving local organizations and businesses, all with the goal of providing affordable entertainment and events for our youth. The festival will be Saturday, Sept. 2, though Sunday, Sept. 10.

The festival theme is “What’s Your Story,” which Jill Moorefield of Beckley Events said encourages children to embrace their differences while also embracing the community.

According to Moorefield, the theme was chosen as an extension of the Youth Museum of Southern West Virginia’s current exhibit: “Storyland: A Trip Through Childhood Favorites.”

“We want to ask children what their story is and see who they are and what they want to be,” she said, adding that the festival’s Raleigh County Public Library author meet-and-greet also ties into the theme. “We are trying to encourage education, self-acceptance and self-awareness.”

Over the course of the festival week, family-friendly events will be scattered across Beckley, offering a fun and affordable time for all.

While festival events officially begin Saturday, Sept. 2, the Boots vs Badges Charity Softball Game will act as the festival’s kickoff celebration at 2 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 31.

The Beckley Fire Department will play for the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA), while the Beckley Police Department will  play for the West Virginia Kids Cancer Crusaders (WVKCC).

The game will be held at the Linda K. Epling Stadium at 200 Stadium Drive in Beckley.

Tickets are priced at $5 for adults and $3 for school age children the day of the game, but tickets purchased before August 30, either at the Beckley Fire Department and Beckley Police Department are $3.

Children ages five and under may attend the game for free.

During the week, several businesses will offer discounts in honor of the festival. The promotions are as follows:

On Sept. 2, children can receive $1 off admission into the New River Park Pool, which will close for the season on Labor Day.

Leisure Lanes will offer one free game of bowling and shoe rental per child when accompanied by a paying adult, Tuesday, Sept. 3 through Saturday, Sept. 7 from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

The Pottery Place, located in Cranberry Creek Shopping Center, will offer a free tile with any purchase.

Wednesday, Sept. 4, Active Southern WV and the National Park Service will offer a Group Bicycle Ride on the McManus Trail. All those interested are to meet at the 3rd Ave. parking lot at 6 p.m. Bikes can be reserved in advance by calling 304-894-2129 or emailing

Lastly, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 5, The Crescendo House will offer a free instrument exploration event for children and parents. This event will be held in the Kindermusik room at The Crescendo House’s Ragland Road location.

The majority of the businesses offering discounts or promotions require that a Kids Classic Festival discount passport be shown to receive said promotions.

Favorite smaller festival events held throughout the week include the Labor Day Kid’s Car, Bike & Wagon Show, where children will have the opportunity to show off and race their battery-operated or pedal car, bicycle, tricycle, wagon, scooter or decorated stroller on the McManus Trail at 6 p.m. Monday, Sept. 2; McFamily Night at the McDonald’s on Prince Street from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Sept. 2; the Puppy Pool Party hosted by the Humane Society at the New River Park Pool from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 3; the 10th annual Classic Pretty Baby Contest at 11 a.m. Sept. 6 on Neville Street during Fridays in the Park; the Kids Classic Homerun Derby at Beckley Little League Fields at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 7; the annual fireworks show, which will follow the Homerun Derby at 9 p.m.; and the Annual Kids Classic Hamster Races at 1:15 p.m. and Dazzling Dog Show at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 8 at the Youth Museum of Southern West Virginia. 

As Moorefield mentioned, one goal for the Kids Classic Festival is to inspire a love for education — specifically reading. Because of this, the festival week is filled with instructive and informative events.

On Thursday, Sept. 5 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., the Raleigh County Public Library will host a free Meet & Greet Children’s Book Author event. During this time, Elaina Rae, an up-and-coming children’s author from Bowling Green, Ohio, will read her new book, “Stay Awake Moon,” which explores how the moon stays awake all night. After the reading, the book’s illustrator, Greta Marie, will host a children’s art session focusing on how the moon in the story shines so bright.

The Meet & Greet has been divided into two one-hour session, the first taking place from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. and the second one from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Call the Raleigh County Public Library at 304-244-0511 for more details.

The second educational opportunity will take place at the Youth Museum of Southern WV on Saturday, Sept. 6. The evening will begin at 6 p.m. when visitors will have the opportunity to see the Funnybones Magic Show and Balloon Animals.

Several special planetarium presentations will also take place in the museum’s planetarium between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m.

While not watching a show or meeting a character, visitors can enjoy and explore the Youth Museum’s current exhibit “Storyland — A Trip through Childhood Favorites” which immerses children and adults in favorite picture books from The Tale of Peter Rabbit to The Snowy Day to Chicka Chicka Boom Boom and others. The exhibit, which is designed for children from birth through eight years, is an interactive exhibit that helps children discover a love of reading

The Youth Museum complex is located in New River Park, adjacent to the Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine. For more information, call 304-252-3730.

In conjunction with the event occurring at the Youth Museum, special underground mine tours will be available at the Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine the evening of Sept. 6. The festival rate for the complex admission is $5, which includes both the underground tour and activities inside the museum. For more information, call 304-256-1747.

Saturday, Sept. 7, perhaps the most anticipated day of the festival, will feature the Kids Classic Street Fair and Parade.

As part of the street fair, the United Games Arcade, a popular hang-out during the festival, will open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The arcade, which spans the parking area at United Bank along Fayette Street, will host games such as a dunking booth, a money machine, fishing booth, Plinko, prize wheel, bounce house and more.

The arcade is designed so that participants purchase tickets to play games. A 26-game ticket card can be purchased for $6 or a half card can be purchased for $3. Children can win tickets by playing the games and then redeem those tickets for prizes.

Proceeds from the arcade will benefit local charities and the games will be manned by volunteers, including bank employees, organizations and students. According to Beckley Events, United Bank has supported the festival and sponsored the arcade since the festival’s inception.

Additional festival sponsors include the Raleigh County Commission, MedExpress, Jan Care Ambulance, Mac’s, Best Ambulance, Quick Prince Printing, McDonalds, several radio stations such as 103CIR and 99.5 WJLS, The Register-Herald, Beckley Events / City of Beckley and the WV Fairs & Festivals Grant.

During the Kids Fair from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. an array of street fair booths, set up by various organizations and businesses, will line Main and Heber Streets and Shoemaker Square. These booths will offer games, information and food.

A new Sci-Fi / Fantasy Area titled “Wizards United” will also be set up at the Federal Plaza on Heber Street.

The Kids Classic Parade will feature numerous children’s characters, festival royalty, walking units and floats.

Festival royalty includes Ms., Queen, Macalah Lefler; Teen Miss Queen, NinaMae Coberly; Miss Queen, Emilee Vance; Mrs. Queen, Mylinda Kimball; Mrs. Raleigh County, Amanda Moses-Sharp; Miss Raleigh County, Kelsey Knoops; Teen Miss Raleigh County, Mia Bailey; Spirit of Beckley Winner, Christy Peters and numerous children royalty.

During the display, several honors will be presented. A special “Founders Trophy,” honoring the festivals founder Madrith Chambers, will be awarded to the Best Parade Entry. Additionally, Beckley’s Babe Ruth State Championship Team and Little League teams will be honored.

Children’s characters, mascots, youth groups, 4-H clubs, FFA, scouts, sports teams, bands, cheerleaders, gymnasts, dancers, artists, musicians, academic and community service achievers are all encouraged to enter the parade. School bands throughout Southern West Virginia, as well as the Beni Kedem Bagpipe Band, sponsored by the Irish Heritage Fund and antique and classic cars have also invited to participate.

The 2019 Kids Classic Parade Grand Marshal will be Bobbi Harvey, local author of the children’s book “The Princess and the Enchanted Spoon.”

Drum lines, cheer and dance teams, and youth performers may be featured after the parade in the Main Street area.

For more information visit or call 304-256-1776. 

Looking over the week’s extensive list of activities and events, Moorefield shares the true purpose of the festival.

“When the Kids Classic Festival was started back in ’94 by City Councilwoman Madrith Chambers, it was meant to bring the community together and give families something fun to do. It started as a one-day festival and just grew from there… It’s important for us to show that our community cares about its children and families. We have it in September so that even when the kids go back to school, they will have something to look forward to.”

For more information on the Kids Classic Festival, such as events and activities, the schedule, the vendors and more visit the Beckley Events Facebook page or call 304-256-1776.

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