WVU Mountaineer Week marks 75 years of celebrating Appalachian culture

Mountaineer Week
West Virginia University’s celebration of Appalachian culture, is turning 75 with activities beginning Monday (Nov. 7) and continuing through Sunday, Nov. 13.

The first Mountaineer Week celebration was held in 1947 as a way to generate school spirit around the WVU-Kentucky football game. A group of students, many of them World War II veterans, planned a weekend of activities that included a pep rally, costume contest and dance.

Over the years, activities have come and gone, but the Beard Growing Contest remains a popular competition among students. The contest began in 1949 and is the oldest continual event of the week. This year, 14 participants are vying for bragging rights for the best beard on campus. Judging will begin at noon Monday (Nov. 7) in the Mountainlair Food Court.

“Mountaineer Week is a time for WVU students to immerse themselves in Appalachian culture,” Rachel Johnson, WVU Arts & Entertainment intern and student chair of Mountaineer Week, said. “From long-standing traditions, like the Beard Growing Contest, to fan favorites like kettle corn in front of the Mountainlair, we are so excited to be celebrating our West Virginia heritage this week.”

The week pays homage to the University’s Appalachian roots with musical performances, demonstrations and food tastings. The week’s signature events, the Arts & Craft Fair and Quilt Show, will be held Nov. 11-13 in the Mountainlair Ballrooms.

The Arts & Craft Fair started in 1972 to showcase traditional Appalachian art. This year’s fair will include the works of nearly 70 Appalachian artisans, all selected by a jury. Handcrafted items for sale will include baskets, jewelry, food, hand-blown glass, pottery and more. See the full list of participating artisans. Each artisan has donated items for door prizes that will be awarded hourly. Fair hours are 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday (Nov. 11) and Saturday (Nov. 12) and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday (Nov. 13).  

The Quilt Show, first held in 1979, pays homage to the region’s rich quilt and needlework heritage. This year’s show will include a patriotic display of red, white and blue pieces in honor of Veterans Day. The Quilt Show is organized and staffed by members of the Country Roads Quilt Guild. Quilt Show hours are 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday (Nov. 11) and Saturday (Nov. 12) and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday (Nov. 13), at E. Moore Hall. 

Concerts featuring student musicians who play Appalachian music will be held in the Mountainlair Food Court throughout the week. Grace Campbell, a singer/songwriter from Princeton majoring in advertising and public relations, will perform Wednesday (Nov. 9) at 11 a.m. A world traveler and classically trained vocalist, Campbell’s multifaceted influences have coalesced to make her a well-versed, intelligent young performer. Additional student performances include: Dalton Matheny and Lexi Mank at 5 p.m. Nov. 9; Graham Sterling at 11 a.m. Nov. 10; the WVU Bluegrass and Old-Time Band at 1 p.m. Nov. 11; and Anna Dunham with Mason Atha at 10:30 p.m. Nov. 12.

WVU alumnae and authors Crystal Good, Laura Leigh Morris and Rachel King will present readings from their books during Wild and Wonderful Women Writers at 7:30 p.m. Monday (Nov. 7) in the Downtown Campus Library Milano Room. Good is the founder of “Black by God: The West Virginian,” a news and storytelling organization centering Black voices from the Mountain State. Morris is the author of “Jaws of Life: Stories,” a collection of short stories that portray the diverse concerns faced by the people of north central West Virginia – poverty, mental illness, drug addiction and the loss of coal mines, to name a few. King wrote “People Along the Sand” and “Bratwurst Haven,” a collection of short stories. Her stories have appeared in “One Story” and “North American Review.” The event is presented by the WVU Humanities Center with support from University Apartments.

Fans of a good old-fashioned yarn will want attend Witchy Women & Other Appalachian Lore Wednesday (Nov. 9). Renowned storytellers Adam Booth, Jo Ann Dadisman and Judy Tarowsky will perform at 7 p.m. in the Mountainlair Mountaineer Room. Booth is the 2022 West Virginia Folk Artist of the Year and a four-time champion of the West Virginia Liars’ Contest. This event is presented in collaboration with the West Virginia Storytelling Guild and with support from University Apartments.

The Hillbilly Gypsies, an old-time bluegrass and mountain music band, will perform at 6 p.m. Friday (Nov. 11) in the Mountainlair Food Court. Best known for their high-energy performances, band members have entertained crowds at major festivals across the Mid-Atlantic region and abroad. The band’s “old-timey” approach adds an authentic barn party atmosphere to their shows. 

WVU alum Emily Lehr returns to the Mountaineer Week stage for the third consecutive year. Lehr, who currently lives in Nashville, Tennessee, began performing during Mountaineer Week while she was student studying music therapy. The former Mon Hills recording artist finds comfort in the influence her Appalachian roots have on her music and often writes about her personal experiences. Her performance is set for 10:30 p.m. Friday (Nov. 11) in the Mountainlair Food Court.

Five seniors who exemplify the Mountaineer values of service, curiosity, respect, accountability and appreciation will be named Mountaineers of Distinction during halftime ceremonies at the WVU-Oklahoma football game Saturday (Nov. 12). The Most Loyal Mountaineers will also be recognized.

Additional events taking place throughout the week include the WVU Lumber Sale, the West Virginia Quilt Documentation Project, an apple butter demonstration and sale, and an exhibit by the Avian Conservation Center of Appalachia. Food vendors offering kettle corn, pork rinds, roasted nuts, southern hickory-smoked barbecue and jambalaya will be set up in front of the Mountainlair.

See the full schedule of Mountaineer Week events.

The Mountaineer Week Arts & Craft Fair is presented by University Toyota. Student concerts, competitions and food tastings are presented by University Apartments.

Stay connected with WVU Arts & Entertainment for the latest event updates through FacebookTwitter and Instagram by following @wvuevents.

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