COALTON - Featuring live entertainment, a free carnival and the return of "The King" himself, the 20th annual Coalton Days celebration will offer classic events and new favorites this weekend.
Once a mining town, traditionally known as Womelsdorf, Coalton has attracted West Virginia senators and university presidents since the annual festival began in 1994.
This year, Endre Samu, an Elvis Presley tribute artist, will return on Saturday to entertain attendees. Samu has performed as a tribute artist for the past 23 years and spends his time working in correlation with St. Jude's Children's Hospital, the Rocky Mountain Federation of Handicap Athletes, Miss Wheelchair Colorado and other charities across the country.
Samu is a retired lieutenant from the Colorado Department of Corrections, where he served for 30 years. For the past five years he has been employed as a trooper with the Kentucky State Police, serving as the camp director of Trooper Island.
"He's back by popular demand," said Mike Ross, a Coalton Days organizer and owner of Mike Ross Inc. in Buckhannon.
Along with Samu, Coalton is also expecting to host Sen. Joe Manchin, West Virginia University basketball coach Bob Huggins, and the presidents of Alderson Broaddus University, Glenville State University and West Virginia Wesleyan College. The new president of West Virginia University, E. Gordon Gee, is also planning to attend Saturday, Ross's secretary, Brenda Bush, said.
The Miss Teen and Junior Teen pageants will be held at 7 p.m. today in the Coalton Elementary School gymnasium.
Saturday is packed full with family fun, beginning with the Vince Ross 5K Walk kicking off promptly at 8 a.m. at the town's railroad grade. Those interested in participating can register Saturday morning at 7:30 a.m. in Coalton Park.
While the 5K Walk is in order, the registration for the Vince Ross 5K Run will begin at 8 a.m. in Coalton Park, with the run starting from the railroad grade at 9 a.m. with monetary prizes in store for the winners.
More information about the 5K Walk is available at (304) 940-1800 or (304) 940-0718. For more information about the 5K Run, call (304) 636-7247.
At 10 a.m., Coalton Days' famous tractor pull or lawnmower race will begin in the ball field.
For years, contestants have prepared their tractors for this event, hoping to speed around the racetrack and come in first place.
At 11 a.m., concession and craft vendors open for service in the ball field; a miniature horse show sponsored by the AnyMini Horsemans Association from Mabie will take place in Coalton Park; and a book exchange is planned in the city hall.
The Coalton Days Parade will work its way through Main Street at 3 p.m., with awards given to twirlette groups, dance groups and participating fire departments.
More information on the parade can be obtained at 304- 406-2111, while the AnyMini Horsemans Association can be reached at 304-636-4461.
Finally, as the day winds down and the weather cools off, the "Nothin' Fancy" bluegrass band will perform a concert in the Coalton Elementary School gymnasium.
"Nothin' Fancy" began in 1994 and since then has won the Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music of America's "Entertaining Group of the Year" award for three consecutive years, and has played in Tennessee, New York City and Virginia.
For more information, call 304-636-3267.