Strawberry royalty crowned
BUCKHANNON — Each year, country roads bring Buckhannon and Upshur County natives home to share the West Virginia Strawberry Festival with their friends and family.
This was the inspiration for Cole Kelley when he submitted the winning theme for the 78th West Virginia Strawberry Festival: “Strawberry Roads Take Me Home.”
“When I was growing up, everyone always said it was like a homecoming,” Kelley said. “I never believed it but now that I am out of school and my friends have moved away, it is like a homecoming for everybody that is from Buckhannon.”
Kelley, the son of Vickie and Tim Kelley, has been around the Strawberry Festival for most of his life as his mom Vickie is a board member and past president. He has volunteered over the years in a variety of roles.
Kelley said his favorite memories include being downtown for the Party Gras events and spending time with family, many of whom make the trip to Buckhannon each year.
Board members selected the theme from a ballot without knowing who was the author.
“When I first won, I didn’t think much of it but now that I am seeing ‘Strawberry Roads’ all over town, it is kind of cool to realize that everyone is behind it and supporting it,” he said.
Strawberry roads brought Queen Cassidy Myers, Teen Queen Gracie Marsh and King Joseph Robinson to Buckhannon this week.
Myers and Robinson lit the flame in the opening ceremony at noon Wednesday on the courthouse plaza and then received their crowns in the coronation Wednesday held at South Buckhannon Mission Church.
Myers, wearing a white gown with beaded embellishments, said, “I love my gown. A huge thanks to Oliverio’s but right as we were getting ready for coronation, the zipper broke.”
Thanks to the quick repairs made by Teresa Kee, the dress and Myers made it on time for coronation and Myers was crowned by Sen. Bill Hamilton, R-Upshur.
“I have been so excited and I have looked forward to it,” she said. “I have counted down the hours until I get my crown. It is so weird not having one but it made it so much more special to get it tonight.”
Myers said her experience had already been a blast but she was looking forward to the Grand Feature Parade Saturday and meeting people throughout the week.
“I’m super excited to see all the little kids,” she said. “They really give me life. Every time I hug them or they say hi, it really warms my heart.”
Marsh too loved her gown from Oliverio’s.
“It’s absolutely amazing,” she said. “I never thought this day would come to wear the big ball gown, the crown and the sash. It’s been an amazing day. I couldn’t have asked for a better day to have this. Marsh said she was looking forward to the parades, the carnival, the kids and living out her own strawberry dream.
“It’s been a dream of mine to have this title for years and it’s just amazing to see the ins and outs of the festival,” she said.
For a complete schedule of events, visit www.wvstrawberryfestival.com.