Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

October 14, 2012

Bland County Festival of Leaves continues to grow in second decade

By BILL ARCHER
Bluefield Daily Telegraph

BLAND, Va. — Beautiful fall weather greeted visitors to the 2012 Bland County Festival of Leaves as thousands of people turned out to the county fairground for great entertainment, games, crafts and the bounty from county farmers.

“Some folks use this as their main money-making event for the year,” Betty Munsey, a member of the Festival of Leaves Committee said. “About 20 years ago, David Danner came up with the idea for this event. It originated with a few tents set up in the lawn beside the courthouse with a couple hundred people. Now, the entire fairground is full.

“Instead of attracting hundreds, now we are attracting thousands of people,” Munsey said. “Every possible spot for vendors is full and we have 73 major sponsors. There’s no organization to the committee. The volunteers all just pitch in to get it together.”

Henry Blessing of the Bland County Board of Supervisors had eight different kinds of apples at his tent along with jars of honey, molasses and more. “We sold about $100 worth of items as soon as we opened up this morning,” Blessing said. “It seems like this gets bigger every year.”

Many people in the crowd passing by the county pavilion paused as Adam McPeak and Nikki Wright of Mountain Thunder harmonized on the song, “Beulah Land.”

“This is our first year here,” Mildred Butt of Bluewell said as she and her husband walked through the festival. “We love it!”

“Last year, we had 52 crafters here,” Kathy Pruett said. “This year, we have 63. We’re full and everyone seems to be enjoying themselves.” She added that the festival includes games like corn hole as well as the release of the Bland County Historical Society’s new book, “Three Hots and a Cot,” that tells the story of the CCC camp in Bland County.

The festival continues today with music, the annual community awards presentation, and a church service in the morning followed by the festival vendors and games through the afternoon.

—Contact Bill Archer at barcher@bdtonline.com