by BILL ARCHER
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
The two Bluefields are in the process of celebrating the 90th anniversary of one of the region’s biggest celebrations of the early 20th Century — the Marriage of the Bluefields. On July 12, 1924, a crowd of about 10,000 people gathered in the old Bluefield fairgrounds to celebrate “Greater Bluefield Day,” recognizing the day when Graham, Va., changed its name to Bluefield.
“Not that we’ve ever been divorced, but the 90th anniversary of the celebration seems like a good time to renew our vows,” Jim Ferguson, Bluefield city manager said during the second meeting of a committee that has been formed to plan the celebration. “At our first meeting, we talked about having an actual wedding or a re-enactment.”
Natalie Fanning, retail sales manager of the Bluefield Daily Telegraph, reported on a “Wedding Couple of the Year” event that the newspaper sponsored some years ago. She said that the newspaper no longer sponsors the event. “Most people planning a wedding would already have a date set by now,” Fanning said.
Mike Watson, Bluefield, Va., town manager, said that the town of Bluefield, Va., wants to get behind the concept of the celebration. Ferguson said that Bluefield would like the celebration to be as big as it was in 1924, but noted: “I would settle for a crowd of 1,000,” he said. Ferguson said that asking 90 couples to renew their vows on July 12, would likely attract a crowd.
“For historical purposes, if we have the vow renewal, we would need some way to record the names of everyone involved.” Watson said. “A ticketed event the night before at the city auditorium might be a good event.”
The conversation between the 12 people on the committee was spirited and upbeat. Almost everyone on the committee made suggestions as to how the celebration would unfold. “I think we need to get the Chamber involved,” Watson said.
Prior to the end of the meeting, Ferguson and Watson created a seven-member sub-committee to determine some of the particulars of the wedding/vow renewal ceremony. The sub-committee is scheduled to meet on Feb. 19, with the full committee set to meet again on Feb. 26, at Bluefield, Va., town hall.