Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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October 7, 2012

Oktoberfest brings brew ha-ha to the town of millionaire coal barons

BRAMWELL — Brick Street was crammed with people Saturday afternoon, as the 17th Annual Bramwell Oktoberfest partied on, fueled by the brews from 17 beer companies, and enlivened by the jams of 17 different musical groups. An intermittent mist of rain didn’t appear to dampen the spirits of a crowd of more than 800 beer lovers, who came out to sample some superb suds.

“It’s good beer,” Thomas Daugherty of Charleston said after sipping a sample of beer from the glass mug he was holding. Dressed in “fake lederhosen,” as he put it, Daugherty was taking a little break from performing sousaphone as part of the Oom-pah band, “The Swinging Slovenians.”

“There was a little rain when we started, but it didn’t seem to keep the crowd away,” Daugherty said. “I’ve been here before. It’s fun.”

Hyounae Min, a native of Korea who has been living in Blacksburg, Va., for the past four years since her husband landed a job at Virginia Tech, said that Bramwell is the kind of community that she envisioned when she was growing up in Korea.

“It is a totally different world — not at all like Blacksburg,” she said. “It’s like the kind of traditional small town that I imagined I would see in America.”

Lamont Woods grew up in Wolfe, a suburb of Bramwell, and graduated from Bramwell High School in 1988. He was the leader of a basketball team that included four All-state Class AA players with Woods, Shawn Jenkins, Scott Goins and Anthony “Boobie” Walton. Together, along with Mose Cuthbertson, the Bramwell Millionaires won a state championship one year before the high school closed.

“Chris (Shoemaker) organized our 25th reunion,” Woods, who now works as a senior financial analyst and lives in Charlotte, N.C., said. “I haven’t been up here in several years. We didn’t have anything like this back then.”

Mark Gray of Morgantown was keeping spirits flowing from the North Central Distributing site. “This is our fifth year here,” Gray said as he continued to pour beer samples. “I love it here. The weather ... the people. It’s great!”

Christy Bailey, executive director of the Coal Heritage Highway Authority said that Richard Bullins, also of the authority, had checked at mid-afternoon and learned there were 800 visitors at that point.

“There have been more in the past, but this is still a great crowd considering the weather,” Bailey said. “Our sweatshirts are selling well today.”

— Contact Bill Archer at barcher@bdtonline.com

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