By GREG JORDAN
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
Mobile signs posted along U.S. Route 52 were already pointing the way Tuesday to exhibitors and visitors in route to the 20th Annual Biennial Bluefield Coal Show.
Thousands of coal industry people are expected at the Brushfork Armory to visit the show’s 240 exhibitors. Companies from 30 states are represented at the coal show along with exhibitors from Canada, the United Kingdom and Germany. The armory was filled with activity Tuesday evening as volunteers and exhibitors worked to do everything from making electrical connections to putting down red carpet.
A small town’s worth of outdoor tents sheltered exhibitors’ booths and large pieces of mining equipment in the armory’s parking lot. Inside the armory, Marc Meachum, president of the Greater Bluefield Chamber of Commerce, was answering questions and using a field radio to help coordinate the preparations for today’s show.
“It continues to be completely filled,” he said of the coal show’s attendance. “And it could not be done without tremendous volunteer support.”
The Bluefield Coal Show has constantly upgraded available support, Meachum said. Electrical service has been improved to keep up with the power needs of new coal industry equipment.
An especially large tent erected next to the armory is a frame structure that provides even more room for exhibitors, Meachum said. The tent has been used during the last five shows.
“It’s probably the biggest improvement we’ve made in the last 10 years,” he stated.
The Bluefield Coal Show is not open to the general public. All attendees will be parking at Mitchell Stadium in Bluefield, and shuttle buses will transport them to the armory, Meachum said. Portable signs from the Mercer County Commission and the West Virginia Parkway Authority will direct attendees to the parking area.
The show will continue Thursday and Friday.