West Virginia Day: Mountaineer Spirit, Southern West Virginia StyleJune 20, 2018
Montani Semper Liberi. West Virginians not only know those three Latin words translate into “Mountaineers are Always Free,” but also that those three words embody the Mountaineer spirit.
On June 20 of each year, West Virginians from Summersville to Bluefield, from Welchto Lewisburg, celebrate West VirginiaDay, the anniversary of West Virginia statehood and also that Mountaineer spirit.
We hear it when fans sing “Country Roads” after WVU games, win or lose. We see it when West Virginians pull together and help out their fellow Mountaineers during times of hardship, even if they’re experiencing that hardship too. We experience it every day in the sharing a friendly smile and wave. That spirit means many things to West Virginians but beneath it all is a certain optimism born of a real sense of community, an identity of what it means to be a West Virginian. That identity is part and parcel of the very history of the creation of the state itself.
West Virginia was declared a state on June 20, 1863, but the road to statehood was much like an old mountain road, filled with twists and turns. The ridges and valleys running north-south along the present day border of Virginia and West Virginia created a natural as well as political division within the state of Virginia. The outbreak of the Civil War only served to highlight political and regional tensions, which ultimately led to the formation of West Virginia in June of 1863.
Ever since that day, West Virginians have celebrated on June 20, but West Virginia Day didn’t become a legal state holiday until the state legislature made it official in 1927. Since then, West Virginians have built community events around this special day, each with its own contribution of what it means to be a Mountaineer.
Events in Southern West Virginia
Although this year’s West Virginia Day is on a Wednesday, there are still plenty of exciting events going on if you know where to look. Here are some examples:
- In Raleigh County, the Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine and Youth Museum will be celebrating the historic day with traditional music, mini golf and book signings. There is a $10 admission fee for the day’s activities.
- June 20 marks the start of the 38th Annual Music in the Mountains Bluegrass Festival at Summersville Music Park in Nicholas County.
- In the New River Gorge region, the New River Gorge Sports and Car Festival, a four day series of events featuring the wide array of activities available in the area, kicks off the day after West Virginia Day.
- Tamarack, The Best of West Virginia, will be hosting traditional music and serving cupcakes.
- The weekend following West Virginia Day, Wyoming County hosts the aptly named Wyoming County Days.
West Virginia’s history is as varied as the people who live here today. Each place has its stories, its own personality. To visit the towns and cities tucked amid the hills, is like meeting a new friend you feel like you’ve known your whole life. Take some time this West Virginia Day to seek out these unique cultural events and bask in one of the many celebrations of the Mountaineer spirit.