As we celebrated the 70th anniversary of the West Virginia Strawberry Festival with the many exciting events and activities, we also celebrated and recognize many area businesses and organizations who support the festival each year to make this elaborate, but expensive event possible.
The festival kicked off with a Golf Tournament on May 15 at both the Buckhannon Country Club and Riverbend Golf Course, sponsored by Performance Motors with special hole prizes provided by Wendy's and other area businesses. The official opening ceremony, with the traditional lighting of the festival flame, was held at noon on Wednesday, courtesy of the Upshur County Commission. Later that evening, the 2011 King and Queen were crowned in a beautiful ceremony at West Virginia Wesleyan College followed by a special reception, both sponsored by First Community Bank.
The highlight of the festival is always Saturday's Grand Feature Parade strutting down Strawberry lane with bands, floats, specialty units, Shriners and something to please everyone. With generous support of Weatherford, Mike Ross Inc. and the WV Lottery, the parade was also televised "live" on WDTV Channel 5 for those unable to come to the parade can enjoy the festivities as well. The parade is also telecast again a few days later so we can watch some of our favorite units again and catch some things we missed that day.
Nothing makes a parade more exciting than the musical talents of area bands and colorful floats, and this year's parade featured some exciting specialty units including "America on Wheels" ... a collection of whimsical cars sponsored by International Coal Group, as well as extravagant floats sponsored by St. Joseph's Hospital and our Queen's float sponsored by Buckhannon Toyota. The city of Buckhannon, Upshur County Commission and the Upshur County Development Authority also generously combined resources to sponsor the King's Float.
Celebrating our youth, Corhart Refractories was pleased to sponsor Thursday evening's Junior Royalty Parade with Jenkins Ford again sponsoring the Minor Court, Upshur County first-graders who serve in the Queen and King's Court during festival week. The Buckhannon Rotary Club sponsored a variety of activities for children including the Diaper Derby, Strawberry Blonde and other fun events.
Another popular event occurs when the sun goes down and Main Street becomes the site of live entertainment and special activities from City Hall to the Courthouse on Friday and Saturday nights. Friday night, Lowe's offered some special crafting activities for children, lots of fun and useful give-aways for everyone, chainsaw carving demonstrations and more. Saturday night's Party Gras, sponsored by Chesapeake Energy, highlighted another set of entertainers and laser light show, a first for the Strawberry Festival.
Showcasing local talent at Strawberry Idol at the courthouse steps is always a crowd pleaser and was again sponsored by nTelos. Other entertainers, both local and visiting individuals and groups, appeared daily at various times during the week on the courthouse steps, courtesy of US Cellular. Wednesday evening's Bluegrass Jam was sponsored by Freedom Bank.
The sold-out Arts & Crafts Shows with nearly 60 vendors and special demonstrations, were presented courtesy of Martin Oil. And don't forget the Antique Engine & Tractor Show, sponsored by Heritage Hearing, the Art Show courtesy of one of our newest local businesses, Country Roads PT & Rehab, and the Photography Exhibit sponsored by and located at Kelly Motors.
There were also a myriad of other activities during the week, all sponsored by generous businesses including Sunday's Gospel Sing sponsored by HB Rentals. Other generous sponsors include the Centennial Motel, KFC, Loudin Insurance, Aarons, Progressive Bank, HWM Trucking, Tennerton Auto, and Rohr's Body Shop.
As the 2011 WVSF Sponsorship Chair, words can't adequately express the sincere thanks and appreciation to the many, many generous businesses in our area who have helped make this year's 70th W.Va. Strawberry Festival possible. There are also many other sponsors who help the festival through in-kind support, and those were listed in our program book and other media. We simply could not have this wonderful festival without the support of those listed here and the many others behind the scenes offering a variety of products and services to help make the W.Va. Strawberry Festival the best in the state.
2011 WVSF Sponsorship Chair