Charleston, WVa. — The 150th anniversary of West Virginia’s statehood, known as the sesquicentennial, is the focus of a special summer issue of GOLDENSEAL magazine, on sale now. Articles include a personal account of life as a Civil War reenactor, a visit to Civil War-era sites in Marion County, a biography of one of the founding fathers of the state, a look back at the massive state centennial celebration in 1963, and a trip to the centennial-inspired Mountain State Art & Craft Fair near Ripley, among other stories.
Civil War reenactors from West Virginia and neighboring states gather at hallowed battle sites to recreate specific conflicts as well as replicate the dress, speech and daily lives of the combatants, according to an article by Huntington Middle School teacher and veteran reenactor Michael Sheets. The article is titled “Reliving History: Memories of a Civil War Reenactor,” and it describes Sheets’ 30 years as a member of Company A, 36th Virginia Volunteer Infantry, a Putnam County-based reenactment group.
“Hidden in Plain Sight: Marion County’s Civil War-Era Landmarks,” by Shannon Colaianni Tinnell, recounts the 1863 Jones-Imboden Raid in and around Fairmont and tells of the many visible reminders still present today around the city. Elsewhere, Tinnell provides a brief biography of Francis H. Pierpont of Fairmont, first Governor of the Restored State of Virginia, also known as the Father of West Virginia.
The 100th anniversary of West Virginia’s admission into the Union – the State Centennial – was marked by a broad statewide effort leading up to a gala celebration at the Capitol Complex in Charleston on June 20, 1963, capped by a speech from U.S. President John F. Kennedy. In an article titled “Recalling the Centennial: West Virginia at 100,” GOLDENSEAL editor John Lilly recounts the many initiatives that took place for the centennial at both the state and county levels. Extensive photo illustrations are provided by the West Virginia State Archives.
One of the most successful centennial projects was the Mountain State Art & Craft Fair at Cedar Lakes, near Ripley. Author Nancy Merical interviews some of the early fair organizers and looks back on the event’s first 50 years.
West Virginia’s 150th birthday celebration will begin at the State Capitol on Thursday, June 20, and conclude Sunday, June 23. The celebration will include the ever-popular Smoke on the Water Chili Cook-Off, a classic car cruise-in, the unveiling of the United States Postal Service’s West Virginia statehood stamp, food and craft vendors, the Vandalia Gathering, and three showings of a 3-D video spectacular that chronicles West Virginia’s history and will be projected directly onto the face of the Capitol. On Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, the observances will end with fireworks shows by the world-famous Zambelli fireworks–the first family of fireworks. To view the complete schedule, visit: www.wv150.com
GOLDENSEAL is West Virginia’s magazine of traditional life and is published quarterly by the West Virginia Division of Culture and History in Charleston. The magazine sells for $5.95 and is available by calling (304)558-0220, ext. 134; on-line at www.wvculture.org/goldenseal.
The West Virginia Division of Culture and History is an agency within the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts with Kay Goodwin, Secretary. The Division, led by Commissioner Randall Reid-Smith, brings together the past, present and future through programs and services focusing on archives and history, art, historic preservation and museums. The Division of Culture and History is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.