ELIZABETH - Thousands of people learned about the history of Wirt County and West Virginia during Wirt County Pioneer Day on Saturday.
"I am so excited about today," said Carole Menefee, regent of the Elizabeth Beauchamp Chapter of the Daughters of the Pioneers, which sponsored the event. "We have had thousands of people walking through and more vendors than we've ever had."
While the kids play area with inflatables, games and face painting was new, the volunteer effort of the Wirt County High School's Future Business Leaders of America have been part of the festival since its inception.
Photo by Jolene Craig
Visitors to the 10th annual Wirt County Pioneer Day stand around the Little Kanawha Hotel to learn the history of the building and West Virginia on Saturday.
Menefee said the students have been volunteering with the event in the Beauchamp-Newman Museum from the beginning. This year their contribution included doing face painting and making sure the kids were safe on the inflatables.
"We have had 20 students volunteer throughout the day and it's good for them to get out in the community," said advisor and teacher Isaac Goff. "The community has been so supportive of the FBLA and it's nice for us to give back to them for everything they have done for us."
This year's Pioneer Day also honored the life of Winnie Murray, who owned the Little Kanawha Hotel, a historic landmark built in 1830 in Elizabeth, for many years before her death in March at the age of 93.
"My mom thought that wherever you live should be a structure of learning and hospitality," said new owner and Murray's daughter, Heather Elkins.
Elkins opened the hotel, which is a three-story log structure, to the public with a video of her mother telling the story of the house and of how West Virginia became a state in the front room.
"This was just right to do," she said. "The museum is wonderful, but my mom wanted to tell the story of history by imbedding it in children's minds and I wanted to carry that on."
At 10 a.m. Saturday, the cremains of Murray were laid to rest in front of the building she loved in a committal service that included the raising of the state flag, singing of "The West Virginia Hills" and "Amazing Grace" played on the bagpipes by Anna Border.
"I think her stone says it all," Elkins said "'Her story was history' puts my mom in just a few words, but tells her purpose."