The new synthetic ice rink at the corner of Main and Spring Streets in Buckhannon. (Katie Kuba / My Buckhannon file photo)

Buckhannon’s synthetic ice-skating rink to make winter debut at State Capitol sendoff for West Virginia-grown Christmas tree

BUCKHANNON – The synthetic ice-skating rink owned by a Buckhannon business will be featured at a special holiday event in Charleston this month.

During Wednesday’s administrative briefing, Governor Jim Justice invited all West Virginians to a holiday celebration in Charleston featuring a sendoff of the national Christmas tree – a 63-foot Norway Spruce from the Monongahela National Forest — to the U.S. Capitol.

That festival, which is free and open to the public, gets underway at 5 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 7, in front of the West Virginia State Capitol Building steps, and it will feature The Rink, a 4,800-square-foot synthetic ice-skating rink owned by Travis Foster with Foster’s Marketing Group. Foster purchased the rink earlier this year, and skaters got to take a trial run on the surface during the World Association of Marching Show Bands competition in July.

The portable rink — which is comprised of 150 panels that measure 32 square feet each, as well as surrounding safety boards — will make its winter debut at the state capital. In addition to ice-skating courtesy of The Rink, the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree Send-off will feature light displays, hot cocoa, s’mores and more.

Every West Virginian’s invitation to the Christmas Tree Send-off on the State Capitol steps Nov. 7. / Graphic courtesy W.Va. Governor’s Office

According to a press release from the governor’s office, 2023 marks the first time in nearly 50 years that a West Virginia tree will be on display in the nation’s capital, so a festival will be hosted in Charleston to commemorate the honor.

Foster explained how The Rink became involved.

“I got a call from Ennis Smith, the director of destination development of the Department of Tourism, and she said they want the rink to go right in front of the Capitol steps, in that big wide open area. They’re like, ‘We love it, so we want it for one of our events down here,’” he said.

“We were really honored to get a call from the Department of Tourism for something simple that we put together for Buckhannon and possibly other locations later,” Foster added. “For them to request that we bring it to the Capitol just exceeds all my expectations.”

During the Nov. 1 briefing, Justice assured residents a good time would be had by all at the festival.

“Today, I am officially inviting all West Virginians to a holiday festival next Tuesday, November 7, to officially send off a 63-foot Norway Spruce that came out of the Monongahela National Forest, and we’re going to send it off to the United States Capitol,” Justice said. “It will be an incredible day. I think there’ll be marching bands there and lots and lots of great stuff.”

“It is a celebration of all of the greatness that our forests have in this incredible state,” the governor added. “Just what a day it will be, what a celebration. I think it’s going to be a great family event, so think about it and plan to come out.”

After the Charleston event, The Rink will be relocated to the corner of Main and Spring streets in Buckhannon, offering a place to skate, play hockey or simply chill out. The plan is to open Nov. 17, but stay tuned for dates, times and more details.

“It’s an idea that I’ve been talking about and working on for the last couple of years – an outdoor ice-skating rink for the community, and really, for the kids,” Foster said when he announced the rink this summer. “I wanted to bring in something different that would not only be available to people here but would also bring visitors into the community to spend money and be a part of the great festivities in town that we already have.”

The Rink is also available for rent for private events — birthday parties, holiday parties, corporate events, etc. – and can be transported around the state. Call 1-800-633-9266 ext. 103 to book an event.

This Norway Spruce will be sent off from the West Virginia State Capitol Building during a special celebration Nov. 7. / Photo courtesy W.Va. Governor’s Office

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