By BILL ARCHER
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
POCAHONTAS, Va. —
More people, more vendors and a huge 630-pound pumpkin mixed in with some great bluegrass and old time music as well as delicious fried bologna sandwiches to produce some high-altitude fun at the 19th Annual Peel Chestnut Mountain Pumpkin Festival.
“Next year will be our 20th year,” Russell Synan said. “We’ll have to see where we go from there.”
“I looked through the fliers we have had through the years, and saw that we repeated the 17th year,” Russell’s wife, Pat Synan said. “We’ll get back on track for our 20th next year. It is a lot of work to put this together.”
Fields surrounding the Synan farm have to be cut for parking, and the expansive lawn is groomed for use by vendors and performers who bring their gear to the small wooden stage.
“I’ve been up here about every year,” Harry Houston, 80, a guitar-playing singer, from Tazewell, Va., who now lives in East Bend, N.C. “I grew up just down the hill from here,” he said. “There was a little country store down there where I lived. I’ve known Russell all of my life.”
Houston said he started playing guitar when he was 7, “Or 8, or 9, or 10 years old,” he said. After serving in the U.S. Marine Corps during the 1950s, he started driving truck for Pilot Motor Freight. “That company is gone now.” Although he was humble about his song styling, people listening knew he still has a great talent.
“I’ve never seen as many people as we had here today,” Wes Dixon said. “It was a little cool this morning, but the sun came out, and there were people parked all over this mountaintop. It just gets bigger every year.”
The Synans don’t charge admission, but anything raised through the sale of fried bologna sandwiches and other concessions, goes to pay for the fireworks for the Independence Day display. The Synans covered the cost of the Atlantic Giant Dill pumpkin seeds that resulted in the 630-pound pumpkin in the front yard.
— Contact Bill Archer at email@example.com