In these days of longstanding woe and viral sickness, people look forward to any bit of relief and happiness that they can conjure up and capture. The only option these days is a virtual relief, remembering those past times of great gaiety and joyfulness on our home computers over the worldwide web.
Now, turn off your televisions and radios which repeat the same currently sad and bad news, being repackaged four or five times a day by the networks. Boring! Think happiness, comfort, good times, fun with friends, and read on!
This Sr. Editor has been confronted with dozens of photographs of Folk Festivals of the Past of late, which, to a degree, revive those fond memories of days gone by during a normal third week and weekend in June.
I refer to Glenville's West Virginia State Folk Festival, cancelled in 2020, but far from forgotten. The Folk Fest is reschedule for 2021 when, hopefully, the coronavirus season will be over and done with ... forever.
Actually, the postponement was a prudent decision to make not only for the wellness of our visitors and our volunteers, but also because with all of the COVID-19 Restrictions now set in place, the fest would have been more difficult for the volunteers to pull off anyway! All of the extra sanitizing, hand washing, social distancing, etc. Hence, it wouldn't feel like the Folk Festivals traditionally do. Can you imagine the old-timers and youngsters sanitizing their fiddles and banjos on a regular basis? At the Ghost Stories Open Mic at the Gilmer County Historical Society, I routinely pass old pictures in frames, along with other memorabilia, around the crowd to see, but now that would be a problem. I'm worn out just thinking of all of the extra precautions that would need to be in place before a “safe and healthy” Folk Fest would be approved by State Health Dept. officials.
Nevertheless, almost every meeting, including our local governmental ones, distant ones like my U. of Ky. History Alumni Advisory Committee, and my younger son and daughter-in-law's Baby Shower last weekend are “Virtual,” and not in person. On that latter circumstance, Patrick's wife, Morgan, is a nurse, so she doesn't want to take any chances with getting infected by others, even family members. That's understandable when you are six months pregnant.
This week, consequently, let us keep our “social distancing” and just enjoy those fond memories of Folk Festivals Past because almost every county seat town in West Virginia has a special day or weekend of gala festivities- almost all, CANCELLED. Remember when during the 3rd week of June annually in past years, all of you visitors could “normally” count on Glenville coming alive! The reason was hosting its supreme, gala statewide event, as we pulled volunteers together from all over the city, county and region to make it happen ... seemingly without effort in typical years.
Although in the past, the crowds had been smaller than usual, perhaps due to the rainy days which typically plague us here. Those who did attend the 2019 Folk Festival, however, found a larger attendance, resulting from the various new offerings and initiatives that were implemented. The new events were instructive, interesting, entertaining, and fun. So, kudos to Folk Fest President Dr. Megan Darby and her energetic committee for upticking the events, many going back to ideas and activities of early day festivals! We editors particularly liked the additional arts and crafts vendors and all of the historical farming skills demonstrations in the lot next to the Historical Society. In addition, the local small business sellers could set up shop in the Sue Morris Sports Complex, too- another new feature. Well done, good and devoted volunteers!
Truly, the events' planners last year had something for about everyone to enjoy- traditional and other music, square dances, history and genealogy lessons, ghost tales and folk tales, and GSC's Pioneer Stage's four full days of programming, notably an all-day Children's Music Camp. In addition, the Country Store Museum's Welcome Center was alive with visitors, along with the Gilmer Public Library's related programs, Little Kanawha River Trail children's activities (many cancelled, due to the high water), Quilting Crafts Competition (always beautiful), and assorted foods to eat, notably the Lions Club's Famous Hot Dogs.
The Saturday Parade of Traditional Belles and the new Jr. Belles, 3rd grade girls from many counties added zest to the lineup, plus the Antique Cars and Farm Vehicles made for one of the finest such spectacles in recent years. Indeed, it was a revived parade, just like the rest of the festival, of which you can look forward to enjoying next June!
Relative to music in the air everywhere, there were Bluegrass jammers, fiddle and banjo contestants strumming away, parade entrants with much applause (notably the Damon West Veterans Flag Unit), and lastly back to this past year's lovely Folk Festival Belles. As to these ladies in our newspaper's tradition, we later featured every one of them on the front page, making sure that you readers realized the great personal and civic contributions that each one made to her own county. Yes, there were some impressive ladies, indeed, and we only wrote a miscue on one, of whom we apologize. (Contact us again, kind lady, and we'll make it up to you!) Moreover, thank you all for taking out a year's subscription to this newspaper in order to keep up with the Festival Committee's plans and their events. As always, you ladies and husbands/companions are always welcome to return to Glenville for a visit, for an upcoming Pioneer Stage event or Glenville State College Music Dept. Concert, or for a Pioneer ball game. Or, just to visit us at this newspaper, for you're always welcome here!
In reminiscing about past festivals, the weather could pose a rainy mess, but it never dampens the spirits of the people, especially visitors, attending these various options for enjoyment.
Also, recall the funfilled Square Dances nightly- by far the most lively event activity, as always! The many expert bands and callers make it easy to dance for everyone to join in creating the Squares. There's always an available partner, as Mack Samples, among others, like Taylor Runner of Morgantown, are master dance callers and matchmakers for the squares. Mack was the parade's Grand Marshal in 2018. So, cheers to Mack and his wife, Thelma, who enliven the dance floor between the City Park and United Bank!
Back to the Belles, we invite all 55 counties to honor their special ladies as Folk Festival Belles. However, it's difficult to get either the county CEOS's or County Commissions to make these appointments. Last year, there were 29 of the 55 counties represented. I might inject that 20 years ago there were over 40 represented, all bringing their enthusiastic families to see them receive our accolades. Nevertheless, in each recent year what they lacked in numbers, they exuded in quality, beauty, and charm, along with being very accomplished in the home economics' arts and community-minded volunteerism. As a result, they admirably represented their small and large, but all fine counties. Moreover, several of their companions brought much zest to the activities, as well. For example, the Hon. Jerry Mezzetesta, a former Hampshire County State Delegate and a friend of mine, visited with Belle Patty, and we three had a beaucoup of fun, talking about the Southern WV Coalfields and problems in other parts of the state. That was a highpoint for me!
Also, real brighteners for the Belles are their local organizers, Susie Kirkpatrick and Genia Richards, who use much finesse in taking them from event to event. Kudos to all of these local coordinators and the Gilmer County CEOS, Baptist Church, Presbyterian Church, Senior Center, and GSC's Goodwin Residence Hall for their special roles performed during the Belles' visit here.
Also, here in Glenville you can choose your own show, for the numerous Folk Festival Tents are all full of storytellers, musicians, and vendors.
In addition, the Gilmer County Historical Society does a marvelous job in providing varied historical and instructive programs, if not colorful programs on West Virginia connected women, like First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, as well as Dr. Jason Barr's entertaining programs, the latest being the Mountain State's rich Jazz origins. Also, this newspaper publisher-sr. editor coordinates the Ghost Stories Open Mic on Thurs.-Fri. nights. All are welcome to share their own Ghost Encounters! Plus, the local Society provides Historic Holt House tours, along with oldtime crafts and fortune telling (Eke, Bev Tanner, the Burnsville Fortune Teller says I'll be okay-Hurrah, and about two years ago, she predicted I'd have a grandbaby, which has proven to be true). The Ghost Stories and House Tours are great for children, particularly.
So, kudos to the whole Folk Festival Planning Committee for pulling off yet another successful fest in 2019! Also, commendations to Glenville State College for holding more events in the Pioneer Stage on Main Street and hosting the Fri.-Sat. evening programs and Fiddle and Banjo Contests in the Fine Arts Center, which always adds much new life to each year's festival!
So to our Festival Committee, we editors commend all of your efforts and you are much appreciated!
Glenville is a laid back place, as the Hillbillies say, so just relax and think of all of the good times ahead for you who will choose to return to Glenville for the 2021 WV State Folk Festival!
We editors, of course, appreciate fan mail and emails, so thanks to 2016 Mason County Folk Festival Belle April Pyles for her kind remarks about my “Who is, Whose, and Whom” column of last week. Unbeknownst to her, she had uncovered a little known, yet fundamental quagmire in human history, of which I was able to put to the test of a historian. She thought it was funny, so I now know that one of my readers may be way out in front of the rest of you. As for myself, I enjoyed writing that column more than any other in recent memory.
Thanks, April, and keep dry over in Mason County!
Another subscriber, Jeanie Swanson, a former excellent news feature writer for us, now lives in South Carolina, but was home here for a brief visit last week. She and her sister, Margaret, like to freshen up their mother and father's graves around Memorial Day each year. Jeanie is surviving the South's summer heat and hurricane waves very well, but is planning on upping her temperature and tension by returning to school, a Methodist Seminary, to earn her Master's Degree in Divinity. A very positive goal for a U.S. Army retiree, so best wishes for your continuing success in new ventures, Jeanie!
Oh, I also have to mention her fine husband's name, Dan Swanson, better known locally here as “Dan The Music Man!” He's been awfully kind to share his musical talents over his FB site- a good cheer up for “Coronavirusville!” Hence, thanks to Dan, too!
Another reason why 2020 is not a good time for Folk Festivals or large public gatherings revolves around the huge DOH construction area for the New Glenville Roundabout at the College's North Entrance and Mineral Road. It will allow motorists to drive in circles for hours, if they have forgotten where they were going in the first place. It will greatly help this Sr. Editor who often wonders why he went into the room where he has stopped. Haha! My brother, T.A. Corcoran, Jr., tells me that this bit of mystery is typical in the lives of folks our age. Hey, he's my older brother, and I'm the youngster, not a senior!
To end this column, have a great week, be kind to others, especially to your neighbors, family, and friends who might need help during this pandemic, and, lastly, hope that all of you Dads had a Happy Fathers Day last Sunday!
Moreover, thanks to my kids- Dave, Jr. and Mary Kay, Catherine, and Patrick and Morgan for wishing your Sr. Editor a “Happy Fathers Day!” I, indeed, like being a Father!