The ‘top bees’ at the Fifth Annual Community Spelling Bee are members of To Bee or Not to Bee/Buckhannon Community Theatre, sponsored by the Buckhannon Animal Clinic. Their team included Rise Hanifan, Lee Barbo, Shawn Hanifan and Breesha Avison, who received a traveling trophy and bragging rights for the year after defeating members of 24 other teams Friday evening. The event, sponsored by the Upshur Arts Alliance, is a fun-filled evening of friendly competition, raising money to support the arts in Upshur County.

Better BEE-lieve it: BCT Team ‘Too Bee or Not to Bee’ upsets reigning champ Highway to Spell

BUCKHANNON – The Event Center at Brushy Fork was all ‘abuzz’ Friday evening as neighbors gathered for a fun evening of friendly competition benefitting a great cause.

This is the fifth year for the Upshur Arts Alliance Community Spelling Bee and teams were swarming to take part in the fun event that supports local arts in Upshur County.

Each participating team was hoping to ‘bee’ victorious as they worked in teams of up to four ‘worker bees’ to spell words such as ‘polynya,’ which is an area of open water surrounded by sea ice; ‘coulrophobia,’ which is an extreme or irrational fear of clowns; or ‘craquelure,’ which is a network of fine cracks in the paint or varnish of a painting.

Teams participating each had to spell the words within 30 seconds, and if the words were misspelled, the judge at their table popped one of their four balloons. Teams could purchase up to four more balloons to add to their chances of winning.

Champs To Bee or Not to Bee with Upshurs Arts Alliance reps, Elizabeth Spencer, at left, and the Bee at the community bee, David Carson.

The first team to misspell words and lose all their balloons receives a consolation prize of pocket dictionaries.

Each of the 25 hives of spellers not only had the goal of raising money for the arts in Upshur County, but also hoped to fly to the top and beat the 2018 and 2019 defending champions of AB/CD Highway to Spell, including Daya Wright, Shauna Jones, Lynn Linder and Kim Bjorgo-Thorne, who were looking to be crowned the ‘queen bees’ and three-year-winners.

After spelling 30 words, five teams remained – BPO Bees, sponsored by Buckhannon Elks Lodge; The Queen Bees; To Bee or Not to Bee/Buckhannon Community Theatre, sponsored by the Buckhannon Animal Clinic; Upshur County Board of Education; AB/CD Highway to Spell, sponsored by the Law Office of Daya Masada Wright; and a mystery team who decided to come in and participate in the fun.

The final word that determined the winner was ‘bougainvillea,’ a genus of thorny ornamental vines, bushes or trees.

With the correct spelling, team To Bee or Not to Bee/Buckhannon Community Theatre, sponsored by the Buckhannon Animal Clinic, was declared the winner, claiming bragging rights for the year and a traveling trophy they can display.

Proceeds from the Upshur Arts Alliance Community Spelling Bee helps support the Augusta Youth Ballet Company, the Buckhannon Chamber Orchestra, the Buckhannon Community Theatre, the Buckhannon Choral Society and Artistry on Main. The UAA annually provides two $500 scholarships for a graduating Upshur County senior who plans to pursue a career in the arts, and they offer mini-grants to groups and individuals. They also bring artistic opportunities to the community and host the West Virginia Strawberry Festival Juried Arts Show.

The UAA is a non-profit 501 (c) 3 organization driven by volunteers and in its 37 years, it has worked to fund, educate, promote and provide arts opportunities in Upshur County. Additional information about the Upshur Arts Alliance is available on Facebook here.

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