Autumn in the Tri-State

September 22, 2018
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New York Times best-selling author Homer Hickam returns to the Mountain State this weekend for the annual Rocket Boys Festival in Beckley.

OK, so while we still may have summer-like temperatures, autumn arrives on Saturday and with it we have an absolute feast of fests. Here’s a look at just a few of the history-rich, family-fun festivals taking place around the Tri-State and beyond this weekend.

Jesse Stuart Weekend

Head over to the Greenbo Lake State Resort Park, in Greenup, Kentucky, which will host the Jesse Stuart Weekend, celebrating the life of the Tri-State’s famous, late, great author, Jesse Stuart, who wrote more than 60 books.

The celebration begins Friday Sept. 21 with a 1:30 p.m. hike to the Jesse Stuart State Nature Preserve to hike out to such sites as Old Opp’s Cabin. There is also a Friday night reception.

At 9 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 22 there is a tour of his home, W-Hollow, an afternoon tour of the Jesse Stuart Foundation headquarters in Ashland.

At 7:30 p.m. Saturday, there will be a presentation, “The Jesse Stuart I Knew,” by Lee Pennington, former Poet Laureate of Kentucky.

Pennington has published more than 1,300 poems in 300 periodicals around the world and has been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry 3 times for the collections I Knew a Woman (1977), Thigmotropism (1993), and Appalachian Newground (2017).

He was named Kentucky’s Poet Laureate in 1984. Pennington is also a widely-known film maker and has produced 24 documentaries.

There will also be book evaluations during the weekend.

Go online at https://parks. ky.gov/parks/resortparks/greenbo-lake/for more info on Greenbo and https://www.jsfbooks.com/for more info on the Jesse Stuart Foundation.


The state’s premier horror and sci-fi convention, will mark its seventh year in Charleston Sep. 21-23 at the Beni Kedem Shrine Center, 100 Quarrier St. Enjoy celebrity guests, engaging educational workshops, interactive panels and demonstrations, speakers, live music and performances.

This year’s Shocka-Con guest list includes a number of talented stars, including Nicholas Brendon, known for his role as Xander on “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”; “American Horror Story’s” Jyoti Amge, who also holds the Guinness Book record for being the smallest living woman in the world; actress and “scream queen” Linnea Quigley, best known for her role as the character Trash from “Return of The Living Dead”; Whitesnake music video vixen and actress Tawny Kitaen and Sean Patrick Flanery, who co-starred with Norman Reedus in “Boondock Saints.”

Entertainment includes Third Eye Cabaret, Po-Folks Cabaret and The Renfields. Daily admission is $15 Friday or Sunday, $25 Saturday. Threeday passes are $45. Admission after 9 p.m. for $10 Children under 8 years are always free. A full schedule will be available online at wvshockacon.com.

Nature Wonder Weekend — Wild Foods Conference

Take a bite on the wild side over at North Bend State Park, which will host the 51st annual Nature Wonder Weekend, North America’s premier and longest-running wild foods event, Sept. 21-23.

The theme of this year’s event is “Forage and Feast.” This year’s keynote speaker will be Doug Elliott, naturalist, herbalist, storyteller and author from Union Mills, North Carolina.

Events begin Friday evening and conclude Sunday morning. There are scheduled speakers, presentations, nature walks, the event’s first-ever bike hike and collection and preparation of wild foods. Activities include a park tour, wild food identification instruction, the Hazel Wood Commemorative Wild Food Cooking Contest and the Bill Faust Wild Cake Contest.

The Wild Drink Contest winner is awarded the honorary Maxine Scarbro Friendship Cup. To register, call 304-558-2754 or send an email to Wendy.L.Greene@wv.gov. A registration form is available at and overnight lodging reservation information is available at wvstateparks.com/event/nature-wonder-weekend-northbend.

Annual Dunbar Fall Festival

Just west of Charleston, this festival is happening Sept. 21-22 in Dunbar. On Friday, there will be local arts and crafts stating at noon and evening music with Tommy Griffith, Kenny Evans and Stratus. Saturday morning brings a 10K to Wine Cellar Park. On Ohio Avenue, there’s a Kids Zone from 1 to 8 p.m. with oversized carnival games, minute to win it games and inflatables. Live music and entertainment starts at 11:30 a.m. Saturday.

Poage Landing Days

The Poages have landed, and they’re bringing fiddles, deepfried Oreos, skateboards and lots of friends.

Ashland’s top fall festival, the Poage Landing Days, rolls Friday, Sept. 21, through Sunday, Sept. 23, downtown with a carnival, crafts and a stream of live music.

Don’t miss the Southern Fried Cone Fest slalom skateboard races, the Ed Haley Fiddle Fest and non-stop music that includes headliners Sammy Kershaw, Keith Anderson and Cledus T. Judd on Saturday night.

Go online at www.poagelandingdays.com for a complete schedule.

Jackson County (Ohio) Apple Festival

Located an hour north of Huntington is one of the region’s longest-running fall festivals : the super-sized 78th Jackson County Apple Festival.

It started Tuesday and will run through Saturday, Sept. 22. The Apple Festival features all things apple from Apple Bingo to pie baking as well as pageants, tournaments, a marching band fest and much more.

The theme this year is “Harvest Hoedown & Country Appletown.”

The Friday-night headline entertainment is Nashville artist William Michael Morgan while Saturday is topped off with the almost-famous, largest lighted parade in Ohio at 7:45 p.m..

Go online at https://www.jacksonapplefestival.org/for the full schedule.

Lumberjackin’ Bluegrassin’ Jamboree at Twin Falls

This annual outdoor jamboree has something for everyone: bluegrass music, food, arts and crafts, and a woodsman competition. The free event occurs at the Twin Falls Ballfield at Twin Falls Resort State Park, located on Route 97 in Mullens. Saturday, Sept. 22, includes art and craft exhibits from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.

At 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, enjoy Lumberjack campfire tales from Bugs Stover and Cully McCurdy.

Jeffrey Wayne will play bluegrass music at the amphitheater from 2 to 5 p.m. Sunday.

The woodsman and woman competition is Saturday only beginning at 10 a.m. College Timber Sports Teams will be competing in ax throw, log roll, crosscut saw, chain saw, oneman bucking, bolt splitting, horizontal chop, pole fell and more.

Rocket Boys Fest

The 20th annual Rocket Boys Festival runs Thursday through Saturday, Sept. 20-22 in Beckley, celebrating Homer Hickam’s No. 1 best-selling book “Rocket Boys,” the movie “October Sky” and “Rocket Boys: The Musical.”

The Rocket Boys Festival’s central location is Beckley’s New River Park, which boasts an authentic exhibition coal mine opened for discounted tours. The park also features an award-winning youth museum and planetarium, great Appalachian food, a complete full-size replica of a 1950s mining town similar to Coalwood, a miner’s museum and more.

The Rocket Boys Film Festival will take place at the historic Black Knight Country Club.

Friday, Sept. 21, will feature dinner and a movie with Homer Hickam and Roy Lee Cooke. Join them for dinner and then sit back and enjoy “October Sky” followed by a talk session with Hickam and Roy Lee. On Saturday, Sept. 22, attendees can participate in a highlight of the annual Rocket Boys Festival, Writer’s Row, hosted by Hickam and featuring West Virginia authors including Daniel Boyd, author of the eco-thrillers “Carbon” and “Salt.”

More information is available online at http://www.rocketboysfestival.com.

Fire And Ice — Craft Beer and Chili Cookoff

From 7 to 10 p.m. Friday, Sept. 21, the Logan County Chamber of Commerce is hosting the 3rd annual WV Fire & Ice Craft Beer and Chili Cookoff at the Logan County Airport, 3247 Bandmill Hollow Road, Logan.

Enjoy a night of craft beer tasting, a chili cookoff, as well as a performance by national act R&B performer Johnny Rawls.

For more information regarding corporate sponsorships or individual tickets call 304-752-1324 or go to www.logancountychamberofcommerce.com.

Get tickets at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/3rd-annual-west-virginia-fire-ice-tickets-46770901024

Devil’s Den Bike Fest

The Hatfield McCoy Convention and Visitors Bureau in partnership with the Hatfield McCoy Recreational Trails and Mountain State Harley-Davidson is hosting the 2nd annual Devil’s Den Bike Fest, Friday and Saturday, Sept. 21-22, at the Mountain State Harley-Davidson, 61 Preece Bottom Road, Delbarton.

The two-day event challenges motorcyclists to ride the winding, twisting history packed roads that were once home to “Devil Anse” Hatfield and site’s made famous by the Coal Wars. Riders have the chance to compete for over $2,000 worth of cash and prizes.

There also will be a Charity Poker Run to support the Shriner’s Charities.

Go online at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/2nd-annual-devils-den-bike-fest-tickets-47217908034 for more information.

Hank Williams Tribute and Beer Festival

Hank Williams Sr. would have turned 95 on Monday, Sept. 17. Help keep his memory alive by visiting Oak Hill, West Virginia, as the town hosts a Hank Williams Tribute and Beer Festival Saturday, Sept. 22, at the Lively Family Amphitheater just two blocks away from where the world-renowned performer was found dead on Jan. 1, 1953.

Enjoy an outstanding evening of entertainment with John Lilly and Rob McNurlin, two nationally known classic country artists who team up to host the annual Hank Williams Sr. tribute show each January in Charleston.

Also performing will be The Bing Brothers Band featuring Jake Krack from 4-6, and John “the Blues Troll” Taylor from 2-4, and Black Garlic from 8-10 p.m.

Go online https://visitwv.com/event/hank-williams-tribute-beer-festival/?instance_ id=5927.

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