FETC director Rebecca Bowers-Call, at left, and Almost Heaven BBQ Bash Board of Directors President Jody Light, at right, and several representatives from the Upshur County School system, including interim superintendent Dr. Debra Harrison, gathered at Fred W. Eberle Technical Center Wednesday afternoon to announce their collaboration to create a car to be included in Buckhannon’s first art car parade. / Photo by Monica Zalaznik

Wheels in motion: BBQ Bash, Fred Eberle Technical Center teaming up to organize Buckhannon’s first-ever art car parade in 2023

BUCKHANNON – The Almost Heaven BBQ Bash is planning to introduce a new parade to celebrate its march back into Buckhannon.

Jody Light, president of the Almost Heaven BBQ Bash Board of Directors, and several representatives from the Buckhannon-Upshur School system gathered at Fred W. Eberle Technical Center Wednesday afternoon to announce their collaboration to create a car to be included in Buckhannon’s first art car parade. Light said an art car parade is a unique concept that she’s excited to see come to fruition.

“This is a whole brand-new thing, a first of its kind in West Virginia; we are introducing art cars to the BBQ Bash for 2023,” Light said. “Basically, an art car is any type of transportation that has been modified or redesigned in some way to change its artistic appearance through your personal expression of art.”

The board was inspired by the art car parade that takes place in Houston, Texas while planning for its two-day barbecue competition and festival, which is slated for Friday, June 16 and Saturday, June 17, 2023, in the City of Buckhannon.

“Once we decided to move back to Buckhannon, we thought we wanted to come back with a bold, new look and feel – something exciting and we think this is it,” Light said.

The Fred W. Eberle Technical Center is tasking most of their classes with designing a car to appear as the BBQ Bash’s mascot for the event.

“We’re hoping we can incorporate all of our different classes, we have collision repair, automotive technology, diesel technology, so those are our primary transportation classes, but we also have electrical technician, carpentry, welding, HVAC. We also have cosmetology and nursing, and I’m sure the cosmetology kids will have some ideas about how to decorate the car and making it look nice,” Rebecca Bowers-Call, director of the Fred W. Eberle Technical Center, said.

“Then, we have information technology programs, which is computer repair and drone technology with robotics, so we’re thinking that everyone should be able to have a hand in, in this project,” she added.

FETC director Rebecca Bowers-Call at Wednesday’s press conference. / Photo by Monica Zalaznik

The Upshur County Board of Education is also encouraging elementary schools to decorate cardboard boxes and students at Buckhannon-Upshur Middle Schools to decorate bicycles for the parade.

“The elementary kids would look at the cardboard boxes because that’s something they can create individually in the classrooms; Houston actually has an art bike parade, so they can create them, and it’s amazing what you can create from a bicycle,” Light said. “We’re looking at everything, so if someone has a four-wheeler, a side-by-side, a riding lawnmower, a golf cart, bus, truck, tractor – any of those things – they can be transformed into a mobile work of art, and that’s what we’re excited to see.”

Several participants are coming to Buckhannon from out of state to display other works of ‘rolling art.’

“We have some others coming from different states, so those will be in there and then we’ll see – they’re talking about doing a competition or a contest in each of the schools, particularly elementary schools, so in each art class, they would create a car from a cardboard box, and they would parade around and have their own contests and maybe the winners would come to the bigger parade,” Light said. “That’s why we hope to engage every student, and we hope that’s a way to reach kids that maybe aren’t normally reachable through academics.”

“It’s all about fun, creativity and imagination,” Light added.

They are planning to have the parade on June 16, 2023.

“We hope to have the art cars [from] some of the schools and whatever others bring in for the parade on Main Street and some other activities, and we will have a welcome reception forum and things like that,” Light said. “We think this is great — to see people coming from other areas, Houston, and all these other places that are going to be exposed to our wonderful hospitality here in Buckhannon, and we know we’re going to treat them right.”

The BBQ Bash and FETC are still searching for the vehicle that will become the mascot car.

“We are looking for a car, and the vo-tech folks are looking for a car; I think we envisioned more of an SUV or a minivan, so we have more space to be painted,” Light said. “If you have an old car or maybe you’re a business out there and you have one you’d like to donate to Fred Eberle, that would be wonderful.”

Dr. Debra Harrison, interim superintendent of Upshur County Schools, said she is excited to see one activity bring everyone together. 

“It’s an opportunity for our pre-K through high school students to participate in an event that’s going to bring the entire community together, so I was really thrilled about the creativity part of that,” Harrison said. “My curriculum coordinator and my assistant superintendent Melinda Stewart are also excited about all of the academic departments that we can bring together as we work through this process.”

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