The highlight of this year's local Independence Day celebration will be the 25th anniversary of the state's largest car show. Coupled with the drag races scheduled at the Elkins-Randolph County Airport, this year's event is expected to attract nearly 800 car enthusiasts.
For the past 25 years, Jim and Suzanne Knicely have been responsible for nurturing the car show from that of no more than a few vehicles in the early days to becoming the largest of its kind in the state. The Knicelyes retired a couple years ago and established residence in Florida but continue to return to Elkins to lead a group of volunteers dedicated to ensuring the success of the event.
The celebration begins with the Cruise-In on Friday at around 3 p.m. with the arrival of the first of what is expected to be several hundred restored antiques, customized hot rods, muscle cars, dragsters and vintage cars and trucks. They will be on display along Railroad Avenue and Third Street until 9 p.m.
Live entertainment begins at 4 p.m. with karaoke performer Fletcher Rollison. At 6 p.m., the area's hottest traveling show band Lucky Enough emceed by comedian Ralph Bennett will take the stage and perform until 9 p.m. The group provides a wide variety of entertainment including comedy, gospel, country and western, pop, rock and roll and oldies-but-goodies.
The band features the great vocal and instrumental talent of Jim Harris who plays base guitar, and Linda Lee, the lead vocalist who also sings backup for the other band members. With Danny Kendrick on lead guitar, "Stixx" Schoonover on drums and Harley Wood at the keyboard, the group always provides a great evening of comedy and musical entertainment.
The Elkins and Beverly fire departments will be grilling chicken and pork behind Elkins City Hall. Dinners will be available for purchase by 5 p.m.
A fun-filled July 4 begins at 9 a.m. in Elkins City Park with the opening of West Virginia's largest car show.
Registration for the Patriot Poker Run begins at 9:30 a.m. at the City Park tennis court. Entry fee is $10 for the first hand. Each additional hand is $5. Bikes will be out by noon and must be back by 3 p.m. A bike show will take place during registration for the poker run. Participants will be looking to win the $1,000 grand prize sponsored by Mike Mullens Law Office and Beander's at Due North. In addition to the awarding of the grand prize for the best poker hand at Beander's later that evening, a People's Choice Award will be presented to the owner of the most popular bike.
The concession stand, operated by volunteers of the Elkins-Randolph County Chamber of Commerce, will be open on the Davis & Elkins College campus adjacent to the outdoor amphitheater at 4 p.m. and will be serving hot dogs, popcorn, nachos, cookies and soft drinks.
Military events will take place from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. with an Air Force Reserve Fly-by at 5:15 p.m. by the 130th Air Wing of the West Virginia Air National Guard based at Yeager Airport in Charleston. A concert by the George Shingleton Band will begin at 6 p.m. preceding the Colgate Country Music Showdown, which begins at 7 p.m. The band will also be providing back-up music for the 12 showdown contestants, who will be competing for the $1,000 cash prize provided by Citizens National Bank of Elkins.
Fireworks sponsored by the ERCCC and the city of Elkins are scheduled following the Showdown's completion of announcement of the winners.
"The entertainment and shows are free the entire weekend," said ERCCC President Merllene Yorkey. "A debt of gratitude is owed to countless corporate and individual sponsors, and the city of Elkins, who makes the events possible along with the chamber of commerce staff, its members and volunteers, and the Mountain State Street Machine Car Club. The volunteers work tirelessly for months to host an incredible July 4 weekend for our community, and, thankfully, they keep returning year after year to ensure its continued success."
Sunday's car show gets under way at 9 a.m. at Elkins City Park and will conclude at 5 p.m. with the announcement of door- and grand-prize winners.
The Elkins Lions Club's famous chicken barbecue dinners will be on sale beginning at 11 a.m. in the park both Saturday and Sunday. Early car show arrivals may purchase breakfast at the Beander's booth on vendor's row.
Drag races will be at the Elkins-Randolph County Airport beginning at 10 a.m. Saturday and conclude at 5 p.m.
While the drag races are not a part of the July 4 activities scheduled by the Elkins-Randolph County Chamber of Commerce, event planners expect that many of those who participate in the car show - especially the dragsters - will compete in the races. Registration to race begins at 9 a.m. and ends at 2:30 p.m. Log on to jollyrogermotorsports.com for rules and more information.
For additional information or to register for car show events, call the Elkins-Randolph County Chamber of Commerce at 304-636-2717, or visit www.elkinsrandolphcountywv.com.