"The Way We Worked," an exhibit at the Randolph County Community Arts Center, had one last day to offer many guests an opportunity to learn or reminisce about work in the past.
"Most days we've had very good attendance," said Beth King, director of the Randolph County Community Arts Center, who estimates that attendance to this exhibit could exceed 3,000.
"The last time I counted, it was right under that. We've had a swarm of people this week," King said.
The Inter-Mountain photo by Melissa Toothman
Wayne Keplinger, of Barbour County, shows his granddaughter, Emma Hale, 4, a ball and chain artifact from ‘The Way We Worked’ exhibit at the Randolph County Community Arts Center on Saturday, the final day for the exhibit. The ball and chain, along with other artifacts that fill the local portion of the exhibit, were contributed by local residents. Elkins resident Rob Whetsell served as curator.
The exhibit also has attracted "repeat visitors."
"The Way We Worked" featured interactive displays, texts, artifacts, historical photographs, videos and songs at the touch of a button to portray the work history of America.
"This is at least the third Smithsonian exhibit we have had. We locally do a good job ... ," said Mary Kay Bidlack, who was volunteering on Saturday.
A localized display complementing the Smithsonian component adds to the work history of the region and has gotten a lot of attention and compliments from guests.
"I like it. I actually like the local exhibit a little more because it's more local," said Wayne Keplinger, of Barbour County, who was visiting the display with his granddaughter, Emma Hale, 4.
Keplinger also said he likes the Smithsonian display about the struggles of the mine workers.
"It's just fascinating. It's really interesting," said Patty Karlen of Elkins as she viewed a local display of artifacts from the Elkins Fire Department that were contributed from various residents.
The exhibit has been open since May 12 and closed at 4 p.m. on Saturday. The Smithsonian portion will be shipped back to Washington, D.C., today. On Tuesday, the display cases will be dismantled, and the process of returning artifacts to their owners will begin.
"It's sad. It all goes back to basements and closets," King said. "People spend a lot of time with the local component."
Elkins resident and local historian Rob Whetsell curated the local component of the exhibit, which has left many visitors and volunteers alike wishing for a museum.
"Even if you've moved here from somewhere else, it's nice to see the history of the area. It would be so nice to have a museum," Kathy Doig, of Elkins, said.
Whetsell spent a large portion of his own time, according to King, finding, collecting, cleaning and organizing the contributed artifacts that will all be returned to their respective owners.
"We were lucky to have Rob Whetsell's help, and all the volunteers everyday," King said. "It would have been tough to keep open without all their volunteer hours."
King also said that Whetsell had an idea of who might have which artifact needed for the local exhibit.
"It's (the exhibit) very well done. I love the old pictures. He (Whetsell) came up and borrowed some (stonemason) tools," said Bill and Tony Witzemann, who live just outside of town near Weaver.
Whetsell made the majority of the contacts with individuals, King explained, and the time he took doing everything he did for the exhibit, was "his own time." He also did research into identifying people in the photos that were contributed.
"It was very time consuming, but people were very generous and willing to help with sharing artifacts and images," King said.
"It just amazes me what people share, and happily share."
Lisa Armstrong, owner of Ajuga Intergrated Marketing and Design, did the layout work for the local exhibit.
"She just did a beautiful job ... it looks like the Smithsonian part," King said.
The Maxwell Gallery at the Randolph County Community Arts Center contained a photography exhibit sponsored by The Inter-Mountain and featured photographers Joe Blankenship and Grant Jones.
"At least once a day, we have a story about the Wallace ladyfingers, how they smelled good," said King.
Saturday was no exception.
For Doig, the local displays and artifacts, including those from Wallace Bakery, bring back memories. Her grandmother on her mother's side of the family once worked in Wallace Bakery.
"They (the ladyfingers) were like long donuts and wonderful icing," said Doig, who also remembers the smell of the famous ladyfingers that used to cost 2 cents.
"I like the local. It's close to home. It takes me back," Doig said.
Sharon Hinchman of Elkins recognized a familiar face in one of the contributed photographs - a woman who lived next door when her family moved to the area. Hinchman and her family were visiting the exhibit for the first time on Saturday.
The Randolph County Community Art Center didn't close the doors on the display when the power went out following the storm on June 29.
"It really did not effect us," King said.
The interactive displays that required electricity were the only components of the exhibit that were rendered temporarily out of order during the power outage.
"It was rather sweltering in the room, but all in all, it was fine," said King.
Randolph County Community Community Arts Center leaders learned about the exhibit in 2009 and wrote the grant to get it about three years ago, according to King.
Sponsors for "The Way We Worked" include Mark Payne, West Virginia Humanities Council, the Museums on Main Street Program, the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibits Program, the Randolph County Convention and Visitors Bureau, the city of Elkins, the Randolph County Commission, The Inter-Mountain, Talbott Frame Shop, Foto 1 Pro Photo LLC, Ajuga Integrated Marketing and Design, Lisa Armstrong, Don Hall and Doreen Hall.