By GREG JORDAN
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
BLUEFIELD — Click here to watch the video
A big mechanical arm hoisted cheering and screaming riders high into air. Nearby, a little girl experiencing her first Cole Chevy Mountain Festival squealed in delight with them.
A Memorial Day week tradition got underway Tuesday as the James H. Drew Carnival and other attractions opened near Lotito Park along Stadium Drive. The carnival opens again at 4 p.m. today.
Near one concession stand, a family was watching a ride called The Cyclops hoist people high to the air. A 15-month-old girl, Ily Parks, watched with rapt attention from her stroller.
“Oh, she’s loving this,” said her grandmother, Debbie Lunsford of Bluefield. “This is her first carnival. She’s been a squealing! She screams with them.”
Lunsford’s grandson, 8-year-old Ryland Parks, said he wanted to try another ride, the Spider.
People sampled corn dogs and funnel cakes as children tried their luck with games. Two little girls clutched their new stuffed animals, a puppy dog and a teddy bear. Music played and more people screamed and cheered as they defied gravity. Small children rode more peaceful rides featuring colorful dragons or the horses and fantastic creatures on the merry-go-round.
One little girl, 6-year-old Shyann Akers, was wondering what to ride. Her father, Shannon Akers of Bluefield, said his family comes to the festival every year.
“It’s for the kids,” he said over the cries of carnival patrons. “It lets them have all kinds of fun.”
Shyann smiled when she was asked if she wanted to ride the caterpillar.
The Cole Chevy Mountain Festival continues until Sunday with rides, concessions, concerts and other activities every day.
“Crank it Up," a free Christian rock concert at Bluefield Auditorium/Youth Center near Mitchell Stadium starts 6 p.m. today.
The concert, presented by Crosspointe Community Fellowship in Bluefield, Va., will feature the Crosspointe band as well as the band from Maple View Church of Christ in Bluefield.
Today’s concert will now provide a time of reflection, emphasis and prayer for the victims of the tornadoes in Oklahoma and the Midwest states, organizers said.
The Miss Cole Chevy Mountain Festival Pageant was hosted Tuesday evening at the Bluefield Area Arts Center. Contestants included Torri Bradshaw, Katelyn Faith Gibson, Jennifer Hall, Taylar Page, Laci Nicole Sweeney, and Erica Ann Whited.
Torri Bradshaw was awarded this year’s crown. Laci Nicole Sweeney was first runner-up.