Williamstown Welcome Center celebrates West Virginia Day

Photo by Michael Erb Historical re-enactor John King, left, dressed as Abraham Lincoln, speaks to Paul Tingler of the Wood County Flywheelers about a contraption on display Thursday at the center. King hails from Rock Creek, Ohio.

WILLIAMSTOWN — Residents and travelers gathered Thursday at the Williamstown Welcome Center to celebrate West Virginia’s 156th birthday.

The annual West Virginia Day celebration featured displays and demonstrations from area groups, including the Wood County Flywheelers and the Parkersburg-based Geppetto Woodcarvers.

“It’s a way for us to show the traveling public some West Virginia hospitality,” said Welcome Center supervisor Terri Goodnow. Goodnow and other employees organized the annual event.

Visitors could view displays of old engines, machines, tractors and other mechanical devices, wood-carving demonstrations, learn history about the area and receive information from the Ohio River Islands National Wildlife Refuge. Visitors also could see a display from Berdine’s Five and Dime in Harrisville.

The main event Thursday was the presentation of colors by the Parkersburg High School Navy Junior ROTC. Goodnow also recruited student volunteers from area high and middle schools to help throughout the day.

Photo by Michael Erb Fifteen-year-old Dalton Becker looks through the fly wheels of a giant engine Thursday at the West Virginia Day celebration at the Williamstown Welcome Center.

“I wanted to involve our kids,” she said. “That was a big change from previous years. I really wanted the kids here and active.”

This marked the first year for the Geppetto Woodcarvers to participate in the celebration, and Secretary Patrick Wentzel said the group was proud to be part of the tradition.

“This is cool, first time we’ve been here,” he said. “I hope we can come back again.”

The event at the Williamstown Welcome Center was one of hundreds of events held throughout West Virginia Thursday to celebrate the state’s 156th birthday.

Photo by Michael Erb Parkersburg High School Navy Junior ROTC cadet chief petty officers Hunter Turner, left, and Maximus Baumgartner, right, salute during the National Anthem played Thursday at the Williamstown Welcome Center as part of a West Virginia Day celebration.

Photo by Michael Erb Geppetto Woodcarvers Secretary Patrick Wentzel works on carving a wooden horse during Thursday’s West Virginia Day celebration at the Williamstown Welcome Center. Wentzel has been a wood carver for about 35 years, and says each horse takes about 30 hours to complete.