Marshall County Prepares for West Virginia Day Tours

Building on last year’s successful inaugural event, Marshall County civic leaders and tourism officials are marking West Virginia Day with a second round of tours and special events Saturday, June 19.

Although West Virginia Day is actually Sunday, June 20, several governmental entities and organizations in the Mountain State are celebrating a day early, since many public facilities are closed on Sundays. Likewise, Marshall County officials are observing West Virginia’s 147th birthday a day early with special events and tours.

Eleven Marshall County attractions will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, June 19, with free or discounted admissions, special programs and a chance to win prizes.

Visitors will be provided with a West Virginia Day tour map (available at all 11 locations). Guests who have their maps stamped at any five of the 11 participating locations will compete for one of three prizes: a 32-inch flat screen television; an Apple iPad and two four-day passes to Jamboree in the Hills.

Nila Chaddock, one of the organizers of the tour, said the first West Virginia Day celebration in 2009 served as “an opportunity for many Marshall County landmarks to work together for the good of all.”

The initial tour was an overwhelming success, exceeding organizers’ expectations. Tour officials were especially pleased last year because “the competition was great for Ohio County,” where several West Virginia Day events were occurring, Chaddock remarked.

Describing response to the 2009 tour, Chaddock said, “At the Glen Dale project alone, we ‘clicked in’ over 861 people to the (Cockayne) farmhouse, and know we missed many. Fostoria Glass Museum had over 600 guests; even the Games and Icard homes saw over 400 people pass through their doors.”

A few minor changes are planned for this year’s event, and organizers have added the Palace of Gold as one of the tour’s destinations, Chaddock said.

The sites in Marshall County that are offering special scheduled programming include:

  • Cockayne Farmhouse, 1111 Wheeling Ave,, Glen Dale, with discounted tours of the farmhouse, plus free tours and exhibits at the smaller Cockayne House, 1105 Wheeling Ave.

Other free special events at the farmhouse include a live archaeological excavation of the Cockayne privy (outhouse); a display of restoration pictures and explanation of the restoration process; display of World War II artifacts, including an M1 carbine, radio equipment and World War II-era Jeep; and an encampment of the Wheeling Fencibles, a newly-formed re-enactment group that depicts militia activity in the years immediately preceding the Civil War.

  • Fostoria Glass Museum, Sixth Street and Tomlinson Avenue, Moundsville, offering free admission and refreshments, with displays of thousands of Fostoria glassware products and a 25-minute movie showing the actual glassmaking process at the former Fostoria Glass factory.
  • Grave Creek Mound Archaeological Complex, 801 Jefferson Ave., Moundsville, with free admission to the museum and Indian burial mound, which is one of the largest conical earthen mounds in the world.

Visitors will see four contemporary traveling exhibits showcasing some of West Virginia’s finest businesses. Children may participate in a free “Bead the Heat” activity at a discovery table where they can make a real copper bead necklace, just as the Adena people did thousands of years ago.

  • Marx Toy Museum, 915 Second St., Moundsville, offering discounted admission.

Guests will see displays of Louis Marx Co. toys from the 1930s through the 1970s. A labyrinth of glass cabinets guides visitors through a display of thousands of Marx items including metal wind-up toys, historical playsets, push toys, trains, dollhouses, service stations, Johnny West figures and Big Wheels.

  • Strand Theatre, Fifth Street and Jefferson Avenue, Moundsville, featuring a theater tour and art exhibit.
  • Marshall County Historical Society Museum, 13th Street and Lockwood Avenue, Moundsville, offering free admission, West Virginia birthday cake, displays of many old photographs and access to the society’s extensive genealogy collection.
  • Marshall County Chamber of Commerce, 609 Jefferson Ave., Moundsville, presenting an open house, tour information and discounted coupons.
  • Former West Virginia Penitentiary, 818 Jefferson Ave., Moundsville, offering discounted guided tours where guests will see inmate creations ranging from beautiful murals to dangerous handmade weapons; hear eerie sounds of a cell block being locked down as the door slams; visit North Hall, where the worst of the worst criminals were housed, and view “Old Sparky,” the electric chair that was built by an inmate and used to execute nine others.
  • Grand Vue Park, off U.S. 250, Moundsville, where miniature golf will be discounted for all ages, a cornbag toss tournaments will take place at Shelter 5 and a free concert will be given at 6 p.m.
  • Prabhupada’s Palace of Gold, RD 1, Box 250, south of Moundsville, offering discounted admission and featuring tours of the elaborate palace and gardens.

“The Palace of Gold Rose Garden will be in full bloom for West Virginia Day,” said Malati Dasi, special events coordinator at New Vrindaban. “People can visit the rose garden anytime and walk around the palace exterior, free of charge. There is an admission fee, however, for a tour of the palace interior. During West Virginia Day, we will offer discounted admission for tours of the palace interior.”

The palace interior is decorated with 31 hand-made stained-glass windows. Officials said that 52 varieties of marble and onyx were imported from Europe, Asia and Africa to create the marble floors and walls. All the furniture is carved teakwood from India. Under the 30-ton main dome is a 4,200-piece crystal ceiling.

New Vrindaban also is holding a free 24-hour music (kirtan) festival in celebration of West Virginia Day. The fourth annual kirtan begins at noon Saturday, June 19, and ends at noon Sunday, June 20. The festival is free and open to the public.

“Kirtan is a form of folk music that arose from the devotional Bhakti movement of 15th-century India,” officials explained. “The primary musical feature of kirtan is the use of call and response, a feature that also deeply informs Western bluegrass, gospel music and jazz. The form is simple: a lead group calls out the melodies and the mantras, and the rhythms build and accelerate. The crowd responds by clapping and dancing.”

Legendary kirtan artists, from the United States and beyond, are traveling to Marshall County to participate in New Vrindaban’s kirtan, organizers said.

Visiting artists include Sivarama Swami from Hungary. In 2009, Sivarama Swami received the Gold Cross of Merit of the Hungarian Republic, the second highest civil award in the country. Award officials stated that under his leadership, the Hungarian Society for Krishna Consciousness has become “the fourth most popular and supported religious community among hundreds in Hungary.” Sivarama Swami also helped found Krishna Valley’s eco-village.

  • Historic Homes of Roseby’s Rock, presenting free tours of historic homes from 1:30-4 p.m. On the tour are the homeplace of Dorothy Dakan Sedosky and the former Methodist parsonage, now owned by Bob and Max Sedosky Wayson.

For more information about the West Virginia Tour Day event, call the Marshall County Chamber, 304-845-2773.