The Frank and Jane Gabor West Virginia Folklife Center on the shared main campus of Fairmont State University and Pierpont Community & Technical College will present the Friends of Folklife Gala Weekend on Saturday and Sunday, June 1 and 2.
Due to expected inclement weather, events for June 1 will take place at Colebank Hall. The History Alive presentation scheduled for June 2 will take place as originally planned at the Folklife Center.
Those who would like to attend the June 1 events should become members of the Friends of Folklife by purchasing a membership with the following levels: $25 a year for Friend Membership, $50 a year for Collector Membership, $100 a year for Preservationist Membership and $300 for Visionary Membership. Membership benefits include admission to the Gala Weekend, a copy of the current edition of Traditions: A Journal of West Virginia Folk Culture and Educational Awareness, newsletters, invitations to functions and events of the Folklife Center and inclusion in special Friends listings. All checks should be made payable to the Fairmont State Foundation, Inc. For more information, contact the Folklife Center at (304) 367-4403.
Gala Weekend activities begin at 4 p.m. June 1 at Colebank Hall with an outdoor market, exhibits, artisans, auctions and raffles, a wine tasting, book sales, a savory and sweets buffet, Civil War re-enactors, a silent auction, tours of the Folklife Center and live folk music.
At about 6:30 p.m., Greg Bray, Executive Director of the Pricketts Fort Memorial Foundation, will be honored with the Traditions Salute Award for his work at the Fort, especially his perpetuation and teaching of blacksmith skills. Bray, a master blacksmith, also recently created decorative iron grill work for the entrance of the Folklife Center. He designed the iron work to reflect the Dutch colonial revivalist style of the facility and the traditional material culture symbols that represent the Germanic Dutch and Anglo Celtic folk traditions.
Following that presentation will be a barn dance featuring the Kennedy Barn String Band and dance caller Taylor Runner at 7 to 9:30 p.m. A cake walk will take place at 8 p.m., and at that time the raffle winners’ names will be announced.
The Folklife Center also will have on display in its second floor Musick Folk Gallery a new exhibit which is “A Salute to Louise McNeill,” former West Virginia poet laureate. A gallery talk and other activities saluting the exhibit will be announced later in the year. The exhibit will be open to the public beginning June 1. McNeill is a former history professor at Fairmont State and was a friend of Dr. Ruth Ann Musick. The West Virginia Literary Map is titled “From a Place Called Solid: West Virginia and its Writers.” The wording “From a Place Called Solid” comes from McNeill’s memoir “The Milkweed Ladies” and reflects the long and deep history and culture of the mountain state and its people. Phyllis Moore is the author of the Literary Map, and Dr. Judy P. Byers is the editor.
At 2 p.m. June 2 at the Folklife Center will be a History Alive portrayal of Joe Bundy as Martin Delany. The presentation is made possible by the West Virginia Humanities Council. Admission to this event is free and open to the public.
“The Louise McNeill exhibit and the History Alive portrayal are part of the Folklife Center’s salute to the state of West Virginia and the build up to the state’s Sesquicentennial celebration,” Byers said.
Born in Charles Town, Delany moved to Pennsylvania with his family when his mother was threatened with imprisonment for allowing her children to learn to read and write. He was a leader in the anti-slavery movement and a superintendent in the Underground Railroad. He co-edited an abolitionist newspaper with Frederick Douglass and attended Harvard Medical College. He was a recruiter for the U.S. Colored Troops and in 1865 became the first black field officer when commissioned as a major.