ELKINS - The sixth annual Riverside Blues Festival is set to provide great music, food and fun July 18-19, bringing internationally recognized talent such as Claudette King-Robinson and Shirley King - daughters of blues icon B.B. King - to Elkins for a one-of-a-kind performance.
The festival is part of Riverside School Association's benefit and fundraiser for the restoration of the school, and also to open a museum for the history of the school as well as a multi-cultural arts center.
The Riverside School was the only African-American high school in Randolph County and has a rich history. It was built in 1906 to serve the African-American community, eventually housing grades K-12. The school closed after desegregation in 1954. The association is dedicated to restoring and preserving the building as a monument to the African-American community within Randolph County. The festival is an opportunity to highlight the school's culture and achievements.
This year's festival will kick off July 18 with the Riverside Blues Train, that will take off from the Elkins Depot at 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Friday, July 18, featuring entertainment from Shirley King and Laurence T. from the Las Vegas Drew Carey stage, said Riverside Blues Festival Event Coordinator Laurie Goux.
Upon arrival back to the depot, passengers and the public will be able to enjoy a Mardi Gras-inspired happy hour at the RailYard Restaurant from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m., with music provided by Shirley King's band, as well as performances by gold and platinum recording artist Max-A-Million and Davis & Elkins College dance student Mia Rae Gresak.
The all-day festival is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. Saturday, July 19, with perfomances by Claudette King-Robinson, Max-A-Million, West Virginia blues star Lady D., Laurence T., the youthful rising star musical group Pett Crow Band and the Riverside Blues Babies performance troupe. In addition to live musical performances, there will be crafts and business vendors, raffles for various items and prizes - including a resort getaway for two - and food including barbecue ribs, greens, macaroni and cheese, homemade gumbo, fried fish and more.
"Tickets are $10 for entertainment all day long," Goux said.
Immediately following the festival, there will be an after party at Bagels 'n Bites where all the festival's performers are invited and guests will be treated to a performance by Shirley King. The price for admission is $10 per person or $5 with a ticket for either the train ride or the festival.
"We want to make this a successful event not only for the Riverside School Association, but also as a sponsored event that is free to the community," Goux said. "I also see this as an event that could be as large as the Mountain State Forest Festival. I want to see this become an economic boost to the community and enhance downtown business."
Goux thanked the The RailYard Restaurant, which partnered with the Festival and has been supportive of the event.
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