WILLIAMSON - In 1972, the dream of Williamson resident and local educator Mae Stallard and several others from throughout Mingo County was realized, when the very first King Coal Festival was held within the city.
Forty years later, many changes have been implemented and experienced in each and every aspect of the lives of local residents. One piece of history that has remained steadfast and has not fell by the wayside is the annual festival that celebrates the rich heritage of the Tug Valley area.
This week, beginning with the baby crawling contest and annual pet show on Thursday evening, Sept. 14, the 40th King Coal Festival will officially be underway. The crawling contest sponsored by the Williamson Woman’s Club will be held in the Williamson First Baptist Church at 5 p.m. and will include two divisions, non-walkers (ages 6-12 months) and walkers (13-18 months). Prizes will be awarded for the fastest boy and girl in each age group. For additional information, contact Carnida Roach at 606-237-1328.
The pet competition (dogs and cats only) is slated to begin at 6 p.m., with registration starting at 5 p.m. The event will be held at the Lefty Hamilton Field in West Williamson. Trophies will be awarded for first place and ribbons will be given out for second and third place finishers, as well as honorable mentions.
Categories for the cats will include the largest, best costume, prettiest and most unique. The dogs competing will be judged in best costume, most obedient, least obedient, most unique, best groomed and most adorable. There is no entry fee for this competition. For more information you may contact event-chair Karen Reynolds at 606-625-1452.
Friday evening, young ladies from throughout the local area will vie for the title of Miss King Coal during the beauty pageant competition that for the first time ever, will be held inside the Southside Mall. The pageant will begin at 6:30 p.m. For more information, contact Jada Hunter at 304-235-0909.
Also happening at the Southside Mall on Friday will be the Cedar Coal Fair Project Display, with the fair winners set up throughout the mall for the public to view and enjoy.
The first ever Coal Dust 5K Fun Run/Walk is set to begin at 6 p.m. on Friday, with the participants departing from the Historical Coal House. An entry fee of $15 will apply for adults and $5 for children under the age of 12. For more information, call the TVCC at 304-235-5240.
Saturday, Sept. 15, the main events for the festival will take place, and a large crowd is expected to attend to mark the 40th year of the celebration. All vendors need to have their displays set up and their private vehicles off the street by 9 a.m.
Larry Brown, AIM Treasurer and chairman over the rented spaces, said that all slots had been reserved for the big day and no vacancies were available. He reminded the public to make sure they abide by all rules and regulations stated on the website to avoid any problems or conflicts. If you have a question regarding the vendors, contact Brown at 304-235-1510.
The Frank O’Brien memorial 5K Run will begin in West Williamson at the Southern West Virginia Communicty and Technical College (SWVCTC) campus at 8 a.m., with registration scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. An entry fee of $20 applies. A “Kid’s Run” will start at the college at approximately 9:40 a.m. and is free to all participants 12 years of age and under. For more information, contact David Hatfield at 304-235-5092, or Alexis Batausa at 606-625-5311.
The Williamson Farmer’s Market will be set up in the BB&T parking lot located on Vinson Street and will have an abundance of fresh produce and home canned goods for sale. Plans are to increase the variety and quantity that was available in the past few years.
One of the most popular events of the festival is the King Coal Annual Car, Bike and Truck Show that will register participants on First Avenue from 9 a.m. until noon. Trophies will be awarded at 3:30 p.m., prior to the lineup for the parade. “One of a kind” specialty trophies that were designed by event chairman Dave Rockel and his wife Connie are up for grabs, and are currently on display at the First National Bank on Second Avenue. An entry fee of $15 will be charged.
Darry Paige, a local D.J., will provide “oldies” tunes and a vendor who specializes in die-cast cars will be set up near the registration tent. A 50/50 drawing will also be held, as well as a “Kids Power Wheel Race (Barbie car, Jeeps, etc) that is set to start at 1 p.m. The car show entries are invited to ride in the parade. For more information, contact Connie Rockel at 304-235-0105, or email her at email@example.com.
Coal trucks will also be included in a competition this year, for the first time. The rigs (no trailers) will be parked on the lot on Third Avenue which was the former location of the Williamson Daily News. Registration will be held from 9 a.m. until noon, with plaques being presented at approximately 3:30 p.m. There is no charge to enter. Categories for the rigs will be best of show, most chrome, best interior, best paint, most mileage, most years of service and most unique. The event is sponsored by Worldwide Equipment located in Barboursville. For more information, contact Jeff Reynolds at 606-625-1451 or the TVCC at 304-235-5240.
The annual baby pageant sponsored by the Williamson Women’s Club will be held in the basement of the First United Methodist Church on Second Avenue, with a $10 entry fee being charged. Judging for both boys and girls from 6 through 12 months will begin at 10:30 a.m., followed by those between the ages of 13-18 months at 11:30 a.m. and ages 19-24 months at 12:30 p.m. For more information, contact Ann Lipps at 304-235-5012.
A coal mining display including safety and rescue equipment will be located in the municipal parking lot on Logan Street, near the main stage beginning at 9 a.m. If all goes as planned, a replica of a mine rescue chamber will be set up for the public. For further information, contact Reynolds or the TVCC at the numbers listed above.
Musical entertainment will be presented throughout the day, under the direction of Eddie Curry. A large variety of music including bluegrass, country and rock will be performed between the hours of 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. on the center stage.
The chili cook-off sponsored by the Mingo County Fire Chief’s Association will be held in the parking lot on Logan Street across from Hurley’s Drug Store. The competition is set to begin at 11 a.m. and public tasting will start at noon. Fire Departments from the entire Tug Valley area are invited to put their favorite chili recipe up against their fellow fire departments to see who can take home the coveted trophies of best overall and the hottest. Rules state that only the beans and meat can be prepared prior to the competition beginning. For more information, call John Hall Jr., Fire Chief of the East Fork Fire Department at 304-784-2032 or Williamson Fire Chief Jerry Mounts at 304-235-5273.
The esteemed Mr. King Coal, Community Service and Humanitarian awards will be presented at 1 p.m. on the main stage, under the direction of AIM President Mae Stallard. Former winners of the Mr. King Coal awards or their surviving family members will also be honored, and will be presented with a certificate of recognition and appreciation. For additional information on these events, contact Stallard at 304-235-5560 or Rachel Baldwin at 304-235-4242, ext. 18.
The “Mini-Miner” costume contest will take place on the courthouse steps at 1:45 p.m., for all children ages 10 and under. Prizes will be awarded in several age groups and the winners will be invited to ride in the parade. For more information, contact the TVCC at 304-235-5240 or Baldwin at 304-235-4242 ext. 18.
Hatfield and McCoy Guided Tours will take place throughout the day, and you must be pre-registered to participate. Contact Natalie Young at the TVCC at the number listed above for more information.
The Hill-Country Square Dancers will take to the streets in front of the Mountaineer Hotel at 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. for two performances that have been a vital part of the festival since its beginning 40 years ago. A Hatfield and McCoy skit will also be performed in front of the courthouse at 10 a.m., 11:30 and 2:30 p.m.
Line-up for the parade will start at 3:30 p.m. in the parking area of the Sycamore Inn on Secoond Avenue, with 4 p.m. the time set for the parade to begin. The “King Coal Bowl” game will be held Saturday evening at 6:30 p.m. at the Mingo Central High School.
Sunday, Sept. 16, the 40th annual festival will wrap up with the annual pinto bean dinner and gospel sing at the SWVCTC, beginning at 1 p.m., under the direction of Rush Runyon and Rita Roberson.
Make plans to attend the King Coal Festival where a good time will be had by all. The annual festival has been a standing tradition for many years and plans are for this trend to continue.