Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

September 29, 2013

AutumnFest brings thousands of visitors to ‘Heart of Mercer County’

BILL ARCHER
Bluefield Daily Telegraph

PRINCETON — The heart of downtown Princeton was absolutely festastic on Saturday as the warmth of a beautiful fall day smiled down on thousands of visitors who took in the sights, sounds, tastes and fellowship of the 8th Annual Princeton AutumnFest.

“So much is going on in our city right now,” Princeton Mayor Patricia Wilson said. “Artists in the community have painted murals on the walls of buildings in the downtown. There is so much happening here today that one gentleman came up to me and said he drove around for an hour just to find a place to park. I wish we could do this more than just one day.”

Mercer Street in Princeton was absolutely filled with art, music, vendors selling crafts, agencies providing information and almost anything a person could imagine. Parking was a challenge, but not insurmountable.

“We have 80 cars here today,” Dave Ruble said. Ruble and Myron Anderson are well known locally for organizing the annual Pipestem Car Show, but the two have grown the AutumnFest Car Show into a significant regional event.

“You ought to have seen me this morning driving down Mercer Street with the AutumnFest queens riding on the back of the seats of my 1957 T-Bird,” Ruble said. “It was really cool.”

There was excitement in the air as the crowds of people continued to pack the downtown. “I would have brought my guitar and played if I would have known there was going to be this many people here today,” Arnold Palmer, one of Princeton’s best known R&B and also gospel performers said. “Seriously, there are a lot of people here today.”

Keith Circle, administrative assistant of the Princeton-Mercer County Chamber of Commerce said that one of the Princeton firefighters took Tammie Toler’s camera to the top of the city’s ladder truck to take a photograph of the crowd that packed Mercer Street. Toler is editor/general manager of the Princeton Times.

“You’ll have to wait until next week to see what that photo looks like,” Circle said.

“We have 106 vendors here today,” Robert Farley, president and chief executive officer of the Princeton-Mercer County Chamber of Commerce said. “For the first time, we are absolutely full from the East End to the West End of town.”

Farley said that about 25 volunteers work to organize the activities, but added that Dr. Susan Williams of Concord University brings about 15 students with her on the day of the event to assist with parking cars for the car show and assisting where they are needed.

“This has really been a great crowd today,” Farley said.

While a variety of talented local performers graced the Dick Copeland Stage in the Princeton Square, and the Salvation Army Band performed hymns with a decidedly brass touch, Tim and Maggie Mainland of Concord University strolled up and down Mercer Street performing an instrumental duet on flute (Maggie) and banjo (Tim).

“Mount Horeb Church brought 1,000 bottles of water this morning, and they’re all gone now,” Laura Gooch said in passing. That was at about 1 p.m.

— Contact Bill Archer at barcher@bdtonline.com