In its 23rd year, the Appalachian Festival is scheduled for Aug. 17, 22, 23, 24 and 25. The Appalachian Festival was formed to expand the Arts and Crafts Fair held at the Beckley-Raleigh County Convention Center. The organization and planning are led by the Beckley-Raleigh County Chamber of Commerce.
In addition to the Arts and Crafts Fair, the festival includes 14 additional events taking place at various locations throughout the area during the five-day event. The community anticipates the festival and it is so gratifying and fun to showcase the area with the vast array of music, food, entertainment, children’s activities, and much more.
The importance of festivals to the local community is significant. Festivals improve the quality of life in a community by providing fun activities for residents to participate in and enjoy as a family and it creates a sense of pride. Festival tourism is one of the fastest growing forms of tourism, especially in rural areas, because of the economic benefit to the community. Benefits to the community can be extensive when the draw is from outside the area. In addition to the money spent at the festival, tourists stay in hotels/campgrounds/cabins, eat in restaurants, shop, buy groceries and buy gasoline. Festivals also expose tourists to other attractions in the community.
Kicking off the festival on Aug. 17 will be the second annual Craft Beverage Festival at Daniel Vineyards. Two of the best-known events are the 55th Arts and Crafts Fair on Aug. 23-25 featuring talented artisans, quilts, the quilters country store, festival food and live entertainment and the Appalachian Block Party brings downtown alive with music, great local cuisine and children’s activities. And, if you are a brave soul, join in the Ghost Tour.
The newest event is the Appalachian Jamboree presented by the Beckley Concert Association featuring the best traditional music in the region. The Beckley Art Center’s Camera Club will host a Fine Art Photography Competition as well as a Camera Club demonstration. Tamarack artisan Christine Keller will demonstrate her unique and colorful jewelry throughout the weekend. Theatre WV presents Appalachian Tales at Crossroads Mall and the Raleigh Playhouse and Theatre is featuring a short documentary on arts in Appalachia, "Life x Culture x Art."
Don’t miss the breathtaking views at Grandview National Park, where you will be joined by a ranger at the main overlook so visitors can learn more about the natural world that surrounds us and about the people who have shaped our past Appalachia.
One of our most popular event locations is the Exhibition Coal Mine, where you can tour a once-working coal mine and the museum and step back in time at the Mountain Homestead. For those who enjoy history, you will want to tour the Wildwood House Museum.
And, for the youngsters, they can Make N Take a craft at the Youth Museum and visit the latest children’s exhibition and/or participate in a scavenger hunt based on the West Virginia state symbols at the Raleigh County Public Library.
There may be a small admission fee for some of the events. For more information about the festival and to see the entire schedule, visit www.appalachianfestival.net or contact the Chamber of Commerce at 304-252-7328. Hope to see you at the festival.
— Ellen Taylor is president and CEO of the Beckley-Raleigh County Chamber of Commerce.