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Photo of the Month
September 2014
See Previous Photos     Unknown Faces and Places

 

NO ORDINARY DINNER -- This image, distributed to newspapers in October 1946 by the West Virginia Industrial and Publicity Commission, shows visitors to the Fifth Annual Preston County Buckwheat Festival in Kingwood, WV. Guests "agreed that an outstanding feature of the festival was the availability of a dinner of buckwheat cakes and sausages at any time of day or night during the four-day affair."

The Festival celebrated Preston County's position as "West Virginia's and the nation's number one county in the production of buckwheat," said a 1958 booklet. "Preston County threshed 63,800 bushels and had an acreage of 2,831... This grain is used in astronomical proportions during the Festival. It is the principal ingredient of 15,700 buckwheat dinners served at three Kingwood serving centers." This month, the Festival will celebrate its 73rd anniversary.

One of the founders of this annual event was John Donald "Happy" Everly (1911-1993) of the family of John "Ami" and Lillie Mae (Wolfe) Everly of Kingwood. He remained active throughout the ensuing decades, and in 1953 was general chairman. He also held the roles of Firemen's Day Chairman (1949-1950); Director of Feeding (1951); and Public Relations Chairman (from 1952 into the 1960s). In June 1959 he and 10 other Festival volunteers traveled to Cacapon Lodge in Morgan County to make a presentation about "The Festival Story" to the annual convention of the Southern Association Commissioners of Agriculture.

At least three cousins were Festival Princesses over the years -- Jo Ann Van Zandt in 1946 (of the family of Jessie [Purinton] Van Zandt); Bonnie Overfield in 1950 (family of James "William" Overfield Sr.); and Mary Everly in 1949 (believed to have been Donald's daughter). 

 

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