Bluefield University in the News


by | Apr 20, 2016

Bluefield College celebrated the history, people, music, food and traditions of Appalachia with its annual Appalachian Festival, Saturday, April 9, in the Dome Gymnasium.


View the video coverage of BC’s Appalachian Festival.












Moved inside the Dome for the first time in its five-year history as a result of unseasonably cold and snowy weather, the event was as successful as ever, according to Dr. Charles Priest, festival coordinator, despite the inclement weather.


“You know, we set it up,” said Dr. Priest about the wide-ranging efforts to transition the traditionally outdoor event inside. “We hoped somebody would show up, and they did. We’ve had a steady crowd all day long.”


Every year, the college hosts its Appalachian Festival, featuring local vendors who come to show off and sell their handmade products. The festival also features storytelling, a writing contest, tours, country cooking and old-time music. This year the musical entertainment consisted of Ron Mullenex, the Bland County High School Old-time String Band, The Butcher Family Band, Will Workman, and Bob Boozer, all doing their part to fulfill the festival mission to preserve the Appalachian heritage.


“Part of it is the people doing the music,” said Dr. Priest, whose been known to pick a banjo a time or two. “Emily Butcher and her family, Dr. Boozer, myself and others get to play the music that’s important to us, and we get to see the people that appreciate it.”


The same can be said about the vendors at the festival. “The craft vendors and things like that,” said Dr. Priest. “This is a chance for them to show the traditional types of crafts and handiwork that make Appalachia what it is.”


While the music played, the vendors interacted with the people who came to the festival. The event draws the attention of not only Bluefield College faculty, staff and students, but also people from the surrounding community who take an interest in all that is offered. Many come year after year to see what is new at the event, but often they look forward to seeing and hearing the things that have become a tradition.


“It’s all great,” said community resident Wayne Stonestreet. “A lot of people put together their best bread, their best fudge, their best whatever, and it’s very delicious. Plus, there are a lot of crafts here. It’s fun to just go by and look at what everybody can make.”


Vendors at the festival included Harley and Peggy Bailey with woodwork and jewelry; Blue Mountain Apothecary with soaps, lotions and handcrafted items; Breanna Buterakos with handmade greeting cards; the Bluefield College Art Club with ceramics, paintings and drawings; Charming Creations with handmade candles, soaps and hair accessories; Creations by Misty with handmade necklaces; Dan and Maria Dronsick with soaps, lotions and jellies; Friends by the Way with handcrafted jewelry and reclaimed treasures; Heartbeat of Virginia with handmade Native American jewelry and dolls; Carolyn Monk with handmade greeting cards and handbags; Origami Owl with charms, necklaces, lockets, earrings and bracelets; Patchwork Quilters with quilts and crafts; Patti’s Beads with handmade jewelry; Quilts by Sally; Short Mountain Woodworks with woodwork and accessories; Thirty Three Acre Farms with jams, jellies, salsa, soaps and candles; Unique Floral Shop and Perfectly Posh with primitive crafts, floral arrangements, soaps and lotions; and Woodcarver’s Cabin.


Local cooks selling homemade goods included Alan’s Alligators with its famous pepperoni rolls, Appalachy Kettle Corn, Country Craft Guild with baked goods, Funnel Cakes and More, Gotta Bee Gluten Free with gluten free baked goods, Silver Saints from the First Church of God in Princeton with baked goods, and Unique Treats with baked goods.


Local authors selling and signing books included Adda Leah Davis from Golden Harvest Creations, Belinda Dickerson with her books on faith, Kim Headlee from Pendragon Cove Press, and Sam Varney with books on mountain history. Among the other vendors: the Bluefield College Fine Arts Community School, the Bland County Mountain Home History Center, and Sons of Italy.


“I like seeing all the crafts,” said Rachel Cochran, a Bluefield College student who attended the festival last year and decided to come again this year. “It gives me a lot of ideas about what I can do in my spare time, and some of them are just really cool.”


In addition to the musicians, the vendors, the cooks and the authors were speakers and presenters, including Samantha Perry, editor of the Bluefield Daily Telegraph, who presented “A Child of Appalachia;” Dr. Terry Mullins, professor of education at Concord University and Appalachian studies historian and author, who discussed “The Tazewell Trolley;” Bill Archer, retired journalist, author and local historian, and John Velke, a descendent of William Gibbony Baldwin, who founded the notorious Baldwin-Felts Detectives Agency, who together presented “Horrible Crimes of Appalachia,” which included a tour of the former Baldwin-Felts Detectives Agency home in Bluefield, West Virginia.


As part of the celebration, the college hosted the Nora Lockett Memorial Appalachian Writing Contest. Winners in the fiction category included (first place) Hasan Muzaffer, (second place) Harry Casseus, and (third place) Morgan Lynch. Non-fiction winners were (first place) Breanna Buterakos, (second place) Hannah Winter, and (third place) Doris Waddell.


Bluefield College launched its annual Celebration of Appalachia in the fall of 2011 with the marquee event, the Appalachian Festival, beginning in the spring of 2012.

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