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WVU Mountaineer Week to celebrate all things Appalachian with arts and crafts, music, storytelling and more

A West Virginia University branded PRT cart is parked in Woodburn Circle with the iconic Woodburn Hall in the background. The PRT cart says Mountaineer Week on it.

Mountaineer Week, the annual West Virginia University celebration of its Appalachian roots, begins Monday (Oct. 30) and continues through Sunday, Nov. 5. (WVU Photo/Sean Hines)

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Mountaineer Week, the annual West Virginia University celebration of its Appalachian roots, begins Monday (Oct. 30) and continues through Sunday, Nov. 5.

Mountaineer Week started in 1947 as a way to generate school spirit around the WVU vs. Kentucky football game. A group of students, many of whom were World War II veterans, planned a weekend of activities that included a thuse, a costume contest and a dance. That first celebration evolved into a weeklong celebration now in its 76th year.

The week features a variety of events, including storytelling, concerts, demonstrations and food tastings.

The festivities open at noon Monday (Oct. 30) with the judging of the annual Beard Growing Contest in the Mountainlair Food Court. More than 20 students will vie for the bragging rights to the best beard on campus as well as cash prizes provided by University Apartments. The Beard Growing Contest began in 1949 and is the oldest continual event of the celebration.

The Arts & Craft Fair presented by Par Mar Stores, Mountaineer Week’s signature event, will be held Nov. 3-5. The fair will showcase the work of more than 60 Appalachian artisans selected by jury. All items for sale are hand-crafted. Shoppers will find unique pottery, jewelry, handblown glass, art prints, photography, bath and body items, and more. The fair is held in the Mountainlair Ballrooms. Hours are 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.

The Quilt Show, organized and staffed by members of the Country Roads Quilt Guild, pays homage to the region’s rich quilt and needlework heritage. The show is free and open to the public between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. Friday (Nov. 3) and Saturday (Nov. 4), and 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. Sunday (Nov. 5), in Elizabeth Moore Hall.

Quilt enthusiasts will also want to visit the “Lifecycle of the Rainbow Trout” exhibit in the Mountainlair Greenbrier Room Friday (Nov. 3) and Saturday (Nov. 4). First-grade students from Mountainview Elementary School created five quilts to depict what they learned while participating in Trout Unlimited's nationally recognized, science-based Trout in the Classroom program which engages students in their mission to protect and restore the nation’s water resources while fostering a respect and love for the natural world. WVU students in Jennifer Ripley Stueckle’s general biology classes assisted the elementary students in raising their own rainbow trout which they released in May.

The WVU Humanities Center will present the Appalachian Writer of Color Series Monday (Oct. 30) at 7:30 p.m. in the Downtown Campus Library Milano Room. This year’s featured author is Lisa Kwong, author of “Becoming AppalAsian” and a member of the Affrilachian Poets. Kwong, a first-generation college student from Radford, Virginia, identifies as AppalAsian — an Asian from Appalachia. Her poem “Searching for Wonton Soup” was Sundress Publications’ 2019 Poetry Broadside Contest winner, and her work has been nominated for the Weatherford Award in Poetry.

Members of the West Virginia Storytelling Guild will present Haunted Hollows: Spooky Stories from Appalachia in the Mountainlair Mountaineer Room at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 1. Illene Evans, Jo Ann Dadisman and Judy Tarowsky will perform.

Lunchtime visitors to the Mountainlair Food Court will be treated to Appalachian music throughout the week. Samuel James, Lexi Mank, Grace Campbell and Dalton Matheny, and The WVU Bluegrass Band and Old-Time Band are scheduled to perform. Bob Shank, Pat Harper and Jeff Fedan will treat Arts & Craft and Quilt Show visitors to the sounds of the dulcimer Nov. 3-5. Additional concerts are scheduled during WVUp All Night and include Kaylee Boyce at 10:30 p.m. Nov. 3, Tommy Thompson at midnight Nov. 4, and WVU alum Emily Lehr and Ryan Brandenburg at 10:30 p.m. Nov. 4.

Trivia fans will want to show off their knowledge at Appalachian Trivia at 6 p.m. Nov. 2, in the Mountainlair Food Court. There will be four rounds of general knowledge Appalachian and West Virginia trivia with prizes provided by Par Mar Stores, Uptown Cheapskate, Hoot and Howl and the WVU Bookstore. This event is hosted by the WVU Appalachian Advocacy Network. This student organization works to educate, inspire and prepare young individuals to engage in political action and build a more sustainable future for Appalachia. Country and bluegrass band Seventy9 will perform at 8 p.m. in the Food Court following this event.

Five seniors who exemplify the Mountaineer Values of Service, Curiosity, Respect, Accountability and Appreciation will be named Mountaineers of Distinction during halftime ceremonies of the WVU vs. BYU football game Saturday, Nov. 4.

Additional events taking place throughout the week include: 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 events.

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