The coal industry is once again struggling, and support for the still abundantly available fossil fuel is becoming increasingly hard to find in Washington, where the push toward green energy is once again all the rage.

So it probably doesn’t come as a surprise to hear that there will be no coal show in Bluefield this year. But the reason for the postponement of the biennial Bluefield Coal Show until 2022 actually has nothing to do with the new administration in Washington or green energy.

The pandemic, instead, created scheduling issues.

The larger international coal show, known as the MINExpo International, is held every four years and was scheduled to take place in 2020, but was canceled because of the pandemic and rescheduled for this September. That’s the same time the Bluefield Coal Show would have been held, according to Jeff Disibbio, president and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce of the Two Virginias.

“We cannot compete with that, because that is where vendors will go,” Disibbio said of the international coal show. 

Thus the next coal show in Bluefield won’t be held until the fall of 2022. 

Even though there won’t be a Bluefield Coal Show this year, the chamber is hoping to have a presence at the international coal show in Las Vegas to promote the area and its businesses, according to Dissibio. If that can’t be done, he said he will work with local companies that plan to attend the international show to help with the promotion.

The Bluefield Coal Show, held at the Brushfork Armory, is a huge undertaking. It takes months to organize, involves dozens of volunteers and attracts vendors from all over the U.S. and from other countries. Historically, it has been one of the region’s biggest economic drivers, attracting thousands to the region with an estimated economic impact of $3 million to $4 million upon the greater Bluefield area.

Local hotels and motels are always packed during the biennial coal show, and restaurants, malls, department stores and convenience stations all benefit from the show. New dollars are spent in our community by the out-of-town visitors.

So we certainly hope to see another Bluefield Coal Show come 2022.

This biennial gathering of coal professionals in Bluefield is still an important event for our region.

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