Welcome Center hosts annual West Virginia Day Celebration

MORGANTOWN — From the tips of the panhandles to the bottom of the state, West Virginians took time to wish West Virginia a happy birthday Tuesday.

On June 20, 1863, West Virginia became the 35th state — separating from its neighbor, Virginia. Even the video game makers of “Fallout” took the time to wish the state a happy birthday on Twitter, ahead of their anticipated release showcasing the Mountain State.

Locally, the Welcome Center, off Interstate 68, held its own West Virginia Day Celebration. Supervisor Michelle Swinehart said the celebration is held every year.

“Each year we try to get some different vendors in here to show off local crafts and different things like that,” she said.

Usually there’s about 10 vendors, and it varies from year to year, Swinehart said. Sometimes there are live musicians. She said it’s a time where different elements of West Virginia can be represented. The day also merited cupcakes, a standard birthday staple.

Swinehart is proud of West Virginia and has lived here her whole life.

“We like to celebrate. We did become a state because of the Civil War, and it’s pretty important, and we’d like everyone else to know about our state as well,” she said.

Swinehart loves West Virginia’s mountains and the outdoor activities.

Jennifer Bowers of Jennifer’s Creations LLC came to showcase some West Virginia-themed crafts and gifts Tuesday. Some were wood signs depicting the state with the words “Wild and Wonderful.” She owns a small craft and gift shop in Hazelton.

A friend of hers told her about the West Virginia Day celebration and thought it would be a good way to promote her business.

“I’m not originally from West Virginia myself; I’ve lived here for 25 years though. I’ve always liked to be creative, and it’s a different inspiration to some people,” she said.

Bowers said West Virginia Day is a special day and gives people an opportunity to see what West Virginia’s all about.

Bowers has local vendors who make her crafts, though she does make some of them herself.

Rudy Williams, regional forester, said the West Virginia Division of Forestry has come to West Virginia Day for 20 years. The organization brings along Smokey Bear, who was on his way to meet the kids.

“People come by and ask questions about West Virginia, just stuff like that. We enjoy doing it,” he said.

Williams said West Virginia is the third most forested state in the country. He said people often make good comments about forestry in West Virginia. He said you’ll see a lot of greenery coming down I-68, including Coopers Rock which the West Virginia Division of Forestry manages.

Williams likes working and talking with people. Being in the forestry field for 36 years, he said he sees something different every day. Williams actually got Tuesday off work because it was a holiday, but he wanted to be at the West Virginia Day Celebration. He said he could take a day off later down the road.

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