Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

October 13, 2012

Meet the neighbors up on Peel Chestnut Mountain with Russell and Pat

Bluefield Daily Telegraph

— — Two of your best neighbors — Russell and Pat Synan — have organized a party for you up on Peel Chestnut Mountain. It’s today and you can come by any time after (real) early morning and stay as long as you want to.

The Synans will have a few hundred guests to celebrate with you and as usual it will be called the Peel Chestnut Mountain Pumpkin Festival. In case you have forgotten, you can take Route 102 from Bluefield west toward Falls Mills and through the coalfield capital town of Pocahontas.

Turn right at the entrance to the famed Pocahontas Exhibition Coal Mine and continue on up to the big turn near the top of the mountain close to the West Virginia line. You’ll know where to turn because somebody will be there to guide you and if you happen to be a little late, then several cars will already be parked where you can see them.

Now, for those who live on the West Virginia side coming up from Anawalt or someplace nearby, then you won’t need any directions.

Everybody in Abbs Valley and Boissevain knows the place well and all the friends from the great town of Bramwell will easily find the way. Speaking of Bramwell, Mayor Lou Stoker and her friends not only organize several great events during the year that many of us attend, but many of them also find time to come over into Virginia and join in the fun up on the mountain.

As always, the Synan family will have plenty of good music. The bluegrass banjo and fiddle groups will be up on stage at times all day long and of course there will be some outstanding gospel music singers and pickers, too.

It will be free like it is every year and you can sit under the tents or stand wherever you’d like to.

There just does not seem to be a bad seat anywhere and since the stage is set up with a great mountain backdrop, you feel kind of like you are watching a concert up at Wolf Trap Farm Park near Washington, D.C., where so many famous musicians play.

Of course, we know that many of the great players come from our part of Virginia and it’s exciting to know that Peel Chestnut highway is its own kind of “Crooked Road” like the famous Route 58 that hopefully Tazewell County is going to be part of before long.

Part of the fun will be having a chance to enjoy the sounds with a lot of your friends. It always seems to be easier to talk and have a great day with some wonderful sounds in the background.

Pat might even sing one or two numbers. You remember what a great voice she has. To make things even better, I absolutely promise that I will not sing a note!

Naturally, you will want to take time to look over the flea market items. There are some great bargains up on the mountain and very interesting items on display.

Most likely, the Pocahontas Lions Club will have some kind of a booth set up and you might want to buy one of those great brooms to sweep out the fall leaves that seem to be hanging around the back door of nearly every home in the neighborhood. Those leaves, though, are going to be so beautiful on the hills today and will be a great backdrop for the festival. You probably have already thought about this but it is a great place to take pictures up there. No doubt all the fun will make you hungry and thirsty so you will want to take time and visit the “food court” set up right in the Synan’s front yard.

It is all homemade and just as tasty as you remember from years past. We all know that Russell and Pat never charge anything for the day.

Parking is free, too. I don’t know how they do it, either, except that quite a few good friends “chip in” and help with the expenses. You might even want to slip a dollar or two in the fund.

One of those great books like they use right out on the road at the nearby Billy Sunday church has a line that says it is more blessed to give than to receive so when the time comes you will know what to do. It is fine either way because this is something that the Synan family likes to do for the community.

Sometimes it is hard to believe that a little place like ours could have such fine people and a wonderful event up on a beautiful mountaintop not far from the most famous coal mine in the whole world. Since we do, though, it would sure be a great day to stop by and visit with the home folks.

The weather is going to be fine and dandy with lots of (fairly) warm sunshine, too.

See you at the party after while!

Larry Hypes is a teacher at Tazewell High School and a columnist for the Daily Telegraph.