BRUSHFORK — The 2019 Bluefield Coal Show kicks off this morning and runs through Friday, bringing in coal industry leaders from around the nation and several countries to the area.

Brushfork Armory, which has been home to the biennial show since its start in 1976, has since last week seen crews from the 190 or so exhibitors busy setting up their displays inside the armory and under tents outside.

Today’s first event is the Media and Exhibitors Appreciation Breakfast at 8:30 a.m. followed by the official ribbon-cutting to open the show at 10 a.m.

Jimmy Brock, president and CEO of CONSOL Energy, will deliver the keynote address at the breakfast.

Gov. Jim Justice is also expected to attend.

Debbie Maynard, Vice President of Membership Services for the show’s sponsor, the Chamber of Commerce of the Two Virginias, said the community always steps up to the plate in helping with the massive effort of hosting the show.

Lee Lewis, instructor of the Mercer County Technical Center, brought his students to assist the electrical committee and learn first-hand more details about the operation, she said.

Bluefield State College’s Shannon Bowling and other faculty, as well as staff and students, are helping man the general registration.

Swope Construction is helping with transporting and providing manpower for the signs and other materials, Maynard said, adding that Rish Equipment is providing the much-needed light tower.

The Mercer County Fellowship Home volunteers are assisting with exhibitors.

Area businesses provide financial sponsorship, she said, and the Mercer County Commission, Tazewell County Board of Supervisors, the City of Bluefield and the Town of Bluefield, Va. all provide support for the show.

Robert “Bob” Ramsey has said the show could not happen without community support and the many volunteers and staff of the chamber that provide help with every aspect of the show.

“They have a staff that has a wonderful handle on the show,” he said of the chamber, adding that volunteers also know what they are doing and are essential to the success of the show.

“I am really impressed with the passion and experience with the volunteers and every committee,” he said. “They are at the top of their game.”

Maynard said she and chamber colleague Karen DeHaan “appreciate the many volunteers and community and business support for the 23rd Biennial Coal Show.”

Parking for the show attendees is at 1780 Stadium Drive and transportation will be by chartered buses from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

The show, which is not open to the public, will be open until 6 p.m. today, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday and from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. Friday, when it closes.

— Contact Charles Boothe at cboothe@bdtonline.com

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