Gala to Benefit W.Va. Folklife Center

Thursday, September 21, 2006

An evening filled with music, food and traditional fun such as an old-fashioned cake walk, will mark the sixth annual West Virginia Folklife Center Gala on Saturday, Oct. 7, at Fairmont State's Colebank Hall. The gala will also feature the presentation of the 2006 B.B. Maurer West Virginia Folklife Scholar Award, the 2006 Traditions Salute Award, a wine tasting and a silent auction.

A $15 admission fee per person covers the cost of the gala events, except for the wine tasting. Those who wish to participate in the wine tasting will be asked to show proper ID. Fairmont State students and children younger than 10 will be admitted for free.

Proceeds will benefit the Folklife Center Kennedy Barn Restoration Fund at the Fairmont State Foundation, Inc. Funds will be used to help renovate what will become the permanent home of the Folklife Center, the former Kennedy Barn/Colonial Apartments building on the west side of the Fairmont State campus. The renovated facility will include a great room, a gallery and reception area, as well as space for offices and archival storage. Currently located in the Education Building, the center is part of the FSU Department of Language & Literature.

"The mission of the Folklife Center is to identify, preserve and perpetuate the region's culture heritage through academic studies, educational programs, festivals, performances and publications," said Dr. Judy P. Byers, Director of the Folklife Center.

The event will begin at 6 p.m. with the silent auction and folk music, a buffet of savory and sweets, folk art demonstrations and a vintage book sale. The cake walk will be from 7-7:30 p.m., followed by the closing of the silent auction bidding at 7:45 p.m.

"We try to show the three areas of folklife, which are oral, customary and material artifacts," Byers said. "Even though it's a fund-raiser, it's a celebration, too."

The presentation of the 2006 B.B. Maurer W.Va. Folklife Scholar Award and the 2006 Traditions Salute Award is set for 8 p.m. George A. and Mariwyn Faith McClain Smith representing McClain Printing Company will receive the 2006 B.B. Maurer W.Va. Folklife Scholar Award, and Phyllis Wilson Moore will receive the 2006 Tradition Salute Award.

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." Six former recipients have been named, such as U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd; Dick Schnacke, traditional toy maker; Jean Ritchie, folk singer and musician; John Randolph, folk arts and cultural preservationist; Patty Looman, dulcimer musician and educator; and Dr. Ken Sullivan, editor and historian, Director of West Virginia Humanities Council.

The following information from The West Virginia Encyclopedia, edited by Ken Sullivan and written by Mariwyn McClain Smith, recounts the history of McClain Printing Company:

"McClain Printing Company of Parsons, Tucker County, has printed many books of West Virginia history and lore. The company was incorporated in 1958 as an outgrowth of the weekly newspaper, the Parsons Advocate, which was then 62 years old. Ken and Faith Reynolds McClain had bought the newspaper in 1943. McClain was approached about 1957 by West Virginia University professors who feared that early West Virginia histories would be lost if they were not reprinted. The newspaper reprinted Alexander Scott Wither's classic history, Chronicles of Border Warfare, as its first venture in book publishing, about 1958.
When Ken McClain retired in the early 1970s, his son-in-law and daughter, George and Mariwyn Smith, moved to Parsons. He took over the printing company and she the newspaper. When George Smith retired in 1997, son Kenneth E. Smith became the third generation to run the printing company.
In the first 35 years, McClain Printing Company produced comprehensive county histories of more than 35 West Virginia counties, as well as thousands of other titles. They include bestsellers such as Roy B. Clarkson's Tumult on the Mountains and Howard B. Lee's Bloodletting in Appalachia; the works of West Virginia poet laureate Louise McNeill and folklorists Ruth Ann Musick and James Gay Jones; and reprints of classic histories by Wills DeHass, W.C. Dodrill, and others."

The new 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.

Phyllis Wilson Moore of Clarksburg, a literary consultant and historian, is a former registered nurse educator with a background in health care marketing. An avid reader and lover of English and history, as well as the art and science of nursing, she often "hangs out" in libraries.

Her professional career involved health care with a strong educational component: Clinical Supervisor in Pediatrics at Fairmont General Hospital; Instructor of Nursing, Davis Memorial School of Nursing, Elkins, W.Va.; Instructor of Practical Nursing, United Technical Center, Clarksburg; Registered Nurse/ Manager of Marketing for Summit Center for Human Development, Clarksburg; Registered Nurse Job Placement Coordinator, United Technical Center, Clarksburg.

In 1995 she retired from the Harrison County school system and devotes much of her time to reading, writing and research, all related to West Virginia and its literature.

Since 1987 Moore has interviewed and photographed many West Virginia authors. She collects and reads their books, as well as books and dissertations written about them. She is a frequent presenter at state and national conferences on the topic of the multicultural literary heritage of West Virginia.

Moore is also a writer. This year, her poem "On the Eighth Day" was selected as the epigraph for The West Virginia Encyclopedia and the volume includes three entries by Moore.

She is a1995 recipient of Honorable Mention in the "Appalachian Heritage Denny G. Plattner Award for Written Excellence in Poetry." Three of her poems are included in the anthology Wild Sweet Notes: Fifty Years of West Virginia Poetry: 1950-1999 and one was selected for use on a West Virginia Women and the Arts calendar. Her essays and poems can be found in A Gathering at the Forks: Fifteen Years of the Hindman Settlement Schools Appalachian Writers Workshops and Beyond the Magpie, as well as in Whetstone, Appalachian Heritage, Grab a Nickel, The State Midwife Journal, Ohio Story Tellers' Journal and the West Virginia Hillbilly. Her essays often appear in Traditions: A Journal of West Virginia Folk Culture and Educational Awareness, the official journal of the West Virginia Folklife Center at Fairmont State. She is one of 71 authors included in the West Virginia Library Associations "Celebrating 100 Years of West Virginia Authors" memorial project (1999). She was an advisor for WNPB-TV's animated film project The Griffin and the Minor Canon (2000).

In 1999-2000 Moore chaired a statewide committee, sponsored by Fairmont State, the West Virginia Library Commission, and the WV Center for the Book, the West Virginia Humanities Council and the National Center for the Book, to create a literary map for West Virginia. The map, published by the West Virginia Folklife Center at Fairmont State is a boon to both teachers and tourist.

For more information on how you can make a gift in support of the programs sponsored by the West Virginia Folklife Center at Fairmont State or for special limited, legacy naming opportunities in the new Folklife Center facility, contact Kim Riggi of the Fairmont State Foundation, Inc., at (304) 367-4014 or toll-free at (800) 372-2586. For more information about the West Virginia Folklife Center at Fairmont State, visit