Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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Charles Owens

May 21, 2014

The carnival and Memorial Day weekend are synonymous with Bluefield

— — It is always a special time of the year in Bluefield when the carnival arrives at Lotito Park. The Cole Chevy Mountain Festival has been a part of our tradition here in the mountains for 31 years now, and is something that families across the region look forward to each year

The long Memorial Day weekend also marks the unofficial start of summer in the two Bluefields. And that’s something that everyone can certainly smile about — particularly after the brutal winter we all had to endure. So in a way the arrival of the carnival in Bluefield each Memorial Day weekend has come to symbolize the start of the warm, summer months here in the mountains. And for many families in the area it is a vacation close to home, and a chance to save money on gas and other travel expenses.

The James H. Drew Carnival will be in town through Sunday, May 25. As in year’s past, the Cole Chevy Mountain Festival will culminate Sunday night with a grand fireworks display over city park.

New and returning attractions are on the schedule for this year’s festival. New activities this evening include a “Crank it Up” Christian concert featuring bands from Bluefield First Church of the Nazarene and Maple View Church of Christ. And the new “Horses, Horses, Horses” attraction continues today from 7 to 9 p.m. in the grassy area at the park.

The United States Air Force Heritage of America Band will perform Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Bluefield City Auditorium. Admission to the concert, sponsored by the Daily Telegraph, is free. And activities kick into full gear Friday with events throughout the day, including the start of the 2014 season of the downtown Chicory Square Concert series, also sponsored by the Daily Telegraph.

 The Bluefield Middle School Band under the direction of Dr. Mary Woodbury will kick off another great season of musical entertainment at Chicory Square. It is our hope that the free weekly concert series — now entering its 26th year — will once again be well attended this year. And mark your calendar for June 27, which is the return of the popular “All American Celebration” at Chicory Square.

The patriotic celebration will once again feature free hot dogs provided by Cole Chevrolet and cooked up by the Internet Cafe, free American flags, free popcorn and free face painting for children, among many other events. The celebration will be headlined by the Daily Telegraph’s Bill Archer and his singing partner Karl Miller, who will perform a variety of patriotic selections.

Other new and returning attractions at this year’s festival include “The Marvelous Mutts,” a great show that was a hit with festival goers last year, the popular Eudora Farms Exotic Animal Petting Zoo, a Beach Party with The Castaways on Saturday night at the city auditorium, Magic by Chaz, rides all weekend on the popular Ridge Runner, the return of Rock-it the Robot, professional wrestling, a Peak Gymnastics Training/Cheer, a bowling tournament, an 8K run and much more.

I’ll admit that I’m probably a little too old nowadays to get excited about carnival rides, but the Cole Chevy Mountain Festival is still a great event for families across our region. And there is usually a little bit of something for everyone throughout the week in terms of festival activities. And don’t forget about all of the vendors at the midway area.

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Late spring and early summer is the greatest time of the year for our region. Trees and mountainsides that were barren just a few weeks ago are now green. Flowers are finally in full bloom. Folks are finally outside walking and working in the sun. Many are turning their televisions off, and enjoying longer nights on the front porch or deck. Others are using the beautiful weather as an opportunity to talk to friends or neighbors. A smile can be found on most faces. The warm summer months will do that to a person.

Winter’s gloom and doom is finally over — despite what our elected leaders in Washington keep telling us with their dire climate change warnings. Summer is here.

This is Four Seasons Country, after all. We still have a winter, spring, summer and fall. We still have seasons of rain, snow and sunshine. Nothing much changes here in the historic coalfields of southern West Virginia and Southwest Virginia — and we can take solace in that fact. Life at times is so much simpler here in the mountains.

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Many families across our region travel to the Bluefield area each Memorial Day weekend for the festival. When I was living in McDowell County as a young teenager, we did the same thing. It was a big deal back then. And it is still a big deal today. And for many families, this may be the closest thing they have to a vacation. So the carnival  and the entire festival  is important to our area. With hope everyone will come out and take in some of the activities this week and later this weekend at the greater Lotito Park area in Bluefield.

Charles Owens is the Daily Telegraph’s assistant managing editor. Contact him at cowens@bdtonline.com. Follow him @BDTOwens.

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