Kristy Spencer, Strawberry Festival Board Member (left) and Shayleigh Bleigh (right)

First-year FETC carpentry student creates heirloom for Strawberry Festival

BUCKHANNON – As the West Virginia Strawberry Festival quickly approaches, it is easy to get distracted by the fun-filled schedule and exciting activities. However, the smallest of details are valued by the WVSF Board of Directors, and this year a Fred W. Eberle Technical Center student rose to the challenge of crafting a one-of-a-kind ceremonial staff for the festival royalty.

After the scepter of last year’s West Virginia Strawberry Festival King went missing, the search began for a replacement. With many failed attempts at finding the perfect scepter, it was time to call Fred W. Eberle Technical Center. First-year carpentry student Shayleigh Bleigh was asked to craft this handmade festival heirloom.

“We are proud one of our students could assist the festival in making something that will be used by the Strawberry King for years to come,” said Rebecca Bowers-Call, Director of FETC.

During class time on the FETC campus, Bleigh was able to incorporate course objectives into this hands-on project with the help of her carpentry instructors, making the scepter smooth and one-of-a-kind. When she presented the scepter to the WVSF Board, the appreciation for Bleigh’s hard work and attention to detail was heart-warming.

“The quality of craftsmanship was beyond compare,” said WVSF Royalty Director Kristy Spencer. “It’ll be an heirloom piece and something we will be proud to hand the King every year.”

This keepsake will be presented to this year’s WVSF King during the coronation ceremony on Wednesday, May 18 at 6:30 p.m. at Wesley Chapel, on the campus of West Virginia Wesleyan College.

“It is a beautiful ceremony,” Spencer said. “Anyone who hasn’t been to it really needs to come and experience it for themselves.”

Shayleigh Bleigh (right) presents Kristy Spencer (left) with the handmade scepter for the 2022 Strawberry Festival King. / Photo courtesy of Fred W. Eberle Technical Center

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