Award Winners to Be Honored at Folklife Center Ribbon Cutting Gala

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Fairmont Forward: A Ribbon Cutting Gala will celebrate the completion of the first floor of the Frank and Jane Gabor West Virginia Folklife Center at 3 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 28. As part of the celebration, the B.B. Maurer Folklife Scholar Award and the Traditions Salute Award will be presented.

Kate Richardson Long will receive the 2010 B.B. Maurer WV Folklife Scholar Award, sponsored by the Frank and Jane Gabor West Virginia Folklife Center, and Fawn Valentine will receive the 2010 Tradition Salute Award.

"At the Frank and Jane Gabor West Virginia Folklife Center, we consider both Kate Long and Fawn Valentine to be West Virginia treasures," said Dr. Judy P. Byers, director of the center.

"Kate Long is our long-time cultural advocate, and we are honored to give her the B.B. Maurer WV Folklife Scholar Award for the composite of her work. Fawn Valentine is an outstanding quilt historian and is no stranger to the Folklife Center's programming. She has attended two of our West Virginia culture teaching institutes sponsored by the West Virginia Humanities Council. We are very excited that both of these ladies will be with us to receive these awards. It is fitting because they are completely representative of what we mean by the culture, heritage and history of central Appalachia."

The event will take place across from the Folklife Center at the Squibb Wilson Boulevard entrance of the Fairmont State University and Pierpont Community & Technical College shared main campus. Traditional old-time cookies and wassail will be served, and tours of the Folklife Center will be available.

The B.B. Maurer West Virginia Folklife Scholar Award annually honors a person or persons who have contributed to the preservation and perpetuation of Appalachian cultural heritage. The award is named for Dr. B.B. Maurer (1920-2003), considered the "Father of Cultural Studies in West Virginia." In 1999, the Fairmont State Foundation honored Sen. Robert C. Byrd as a West Virginia Scholar in accordance with the newly developed Folklife Center, established to promote the identification, preservation and perpetuation of the region's rich cultural heritage. Uniting scholars from various disciplines, as well as artists, writers and musicians, the Folklife Center now provides education, research, publications and programs to the academic community and the general public.

Long is a media writer, storyteller, freelance broadcast producer, songwriter, vocalist, a radio commentator, social advocate, youth counselor, researcher and teacher. She was the host and producer of an award winning, 14-part series featuring writers who can claim a West Virginian heritage. This series, titled "In Their Own Country," was sponsored in 2002 by the West Virginia Humanities Council, West Virginia Public Broadcasting, West Virginia Library Commission, West Virginia Division of Arts and Humanities, the Charleston Gazette and the Putnam County Library.

Long is an asset to her community and to the state of West Virginia, and she combines multiple talents with professional expertise in many fields of interest, and often with award-winning success. She is an alumna of West Virginia University, and she received her Master's in Special Education from George Washington University. She published a book, "Johnny's Such a Bright Boy, What a Shame He's Retarded," in 1977. Upon its publication, the book received the Delta Kappa Gamma International Educator Award.

According to her web site (http://www.katelong.com/), some of her noteworthy projects include: a 22-part Charleston Gazette series about the high cost of health care in West Virginia titled, "Everybody at Risk"; "Parents to Parents" video series for WV Advocates in Charleston; a 1998 video regarding domestic violence in West Virginia titled, "Safe at Home"; and a teaching manual for parents regarding their special needs young children titled, "Parents Becoming Teachers."

Long's series, "Everybody at Risk" received the Gerald Loeb Award in 2004. For her professional accomplishments in social work, she received the Public Citizen of the Year award in 2006 by the West Virginia national Association of Social Workers. "In Their Own Country" received the Gabriel Award in 2003. Long's accomplishments in songwriting landed her the International Bluegrass Music Association Song of the Year award in 1994.

Long continues to provide services to her community as a custom-designed workshop coach in vocal performance, storytelling and writing. More information regarding these workshops can be found at http://www.katelong.com/.

The Traditions Salute Award is given to a person or group that has demonstrated a passion and commitment towards the enhancement of West Virginia folk culture through education and public resources. The recipient will always be recognized in "Traditions: West Virginia Folklore Journal," and the actual honor will be bestowed at a public awards ceremony.

Fawn Valentine has always loved cloth. Her fascination with fibers and fabrics led her to explore sewing, embroidery, hand-weaving, dyeing, basketry and quilt history. She discovered quilt history while pursuing her master's degree at Hollins College, in Roanoke, Va.

She began a 10-year journey with the West Virginia Heritage Quilt Search (WVHQS) to record information about quilts made in or brought to West Virginia before 1950. As a volunteer, Valentine designed the WVHQS documentation instrument, analyzed data, directed the oral history project and produced a manuscript that became "West Virginia Quilts and Quiltmakers: Echoes from the Hills" published by Ohio University Press in 2000.

Along the way, Valentine's Master's Thesis, "Scotch-Irish Quilts in West Virginia," was selected in competition for publication in the 1995 American Quilt Study Group's annual journal, "Uncoverings," and for presentation of her research to the annual seminar. That same year, she was invited to give an illustrated lecture and participate in a panel discussion for the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of American History's research forum on regional characteristics in quilts, "What's American about American Quilts."

The West Virginia Humanities Council awarded Valentine a fellowship to study and organize the results of the oral histories collected by WVHQS, and she was a popular speaker for the West Virginia Humanities Council Speakers Bureau. The West Virginia Library Commission arranged for her to travel to libraries around the state, giving presentations and talking to people about their quilts.

Fawn Valentine lives in Alderson, which is located near the Greenbrier River. She holds the position as the chair of the town Planning Commission and is a member of several local organizations. Her day job is as a social worker and service coordinator in a community mental health center in Hinton, Summers County. Valentine is a Distance Learning Instructor for Mountain State University, and her courses include: art appreciation, art history, art education and quilt history.

Valentine received a Bachelor's Degree in Studio Art from Concord College. She helped reorganize the dormant hand-weaving studio while she was a student at Concord. For many years, she taught hand-weaving in Monroe and Greenbrier counties and helped organize the Fiber Network, a group that continues to meet, hold classes and demonstrates weaving and spinning at the West Virginia State Fair. She served a number of years on the board of directors for the Cabin Creek Quilts Cooperative in Malden.

For more information about the Folklife Center and its programs and activities, call Dr. Judy P. Byers, Director, at (304) 367-4286 or Noel W. Tenney, Cultural Specialist, at (304) 367-4403 or visit http://www.fairmontstate.edu/wvfolklife/default.asp.

The Folklore-Folklife Programs, a division of the Department of Language and Literature in the College of Liberal Arts of FSU and the School of Human Services of Pierpont Community & Technical College, are dedicated to the identification, preservation and perpetuation of our region's rich cultural heritage through academic studies, educational programs, festivals, performances and publications.