Hard work and dedication make the special annual event of the Valley Head Community Homecoming come to life year after year, and this year was no exception for the 30th celebration.
The weekend had events for fun and skill for all ages spread throughout downtown Valley Head, with everything from the ever-popular parade and plenty of music to pageants, cake contests and a horseshoe pitch.
More than 30 years ago, Valley Head resident Nancy Riggleman singlehandedly founded the annual community reunion.
Sisters Jean Hamrick and Shirley Swecker have been leading the effort to make the Valley Head Community Homecoming a success since 1999.
"We need this celebration so that we have something to come back to; we need a reason to come back," she said when she first came up with the idea.
The Kenney sisters, Jean Hamrick and Shirley Swecker, both Valley Head natives, have been leading the charge since 1999, when the Oak Grove United Methodist Church Women's Group took over the event sponsorship - and they are loving every minute of it. Their team includes Swecker's daughters Cheryl See and Carol Snyder; Trish Neeley; and Cindy and Donna Thompson.
Hamrick returned to Valley Head after 30 years in Cleveland, Ohio, and her husband Clay's retirement from Chevrolet. Swecker has lived in Valley Head all of her life except for a hiatus in Webster and Nicholas counties. She has worked part time as a bookkeeper at the Elkins branch of Mountain Valley Bank for 35 years.
The preparation for this year's event began in mid-April, with three laughter-filled days in Grafton, Ohio. Another Kenney sister, Faye Iselin, along with Hamrick, mailed 244 personal invitations to all the out-of-staters who signed the official Valley Head Community Homecoming Guest Book.
General organization, setup and teardown is overseen by Hamrick and Swecker, along with the muscles of Roger Neeley.
Valley Head librarians Edna Mae Wood and Doug Wood also help out, by putting up a display of dozens of historic photographs in the windows of the landmark Woods Store, where many of the festivities take place throughout the annual weekend celebration.
Dorse See, Cheryl See's husband, builds and hauls the Miss Valley Head float for the Saturday parade.
Thirty years ago, the parade was a short, simple, casual production with old farm wagons with rocking chairs filled with smiling, waving residents. Now it includes many floats, such as the Queen's Float, the Military Float, many bands and lots more.
When Swecker was asked why dozens of local residents devote two months every year to organize the event, her answer was clear.
"Because the people expect it, most especially the out-of-towners. It is Memorial Day weekend, they expect a homecoming - and we keep on doing it!"
Hundreds of Valley Headers are sure glad they do.