The New Deal at the Crossroads Fair at Kump Center was a day to remember that the local community is what we make it. Elkins is a wonderful place to live because so many people volunteer to do so much. Fun was homemade in the 1930s, and we still create our own fun.
On Sept. 1, the Youth Group from the First Church of Christ started fires for apple butter at 5 a.m. under the leadership of Beth Cooper. They were stirring two huge copper pots of apples when other volunteers started arriving about 7 a.m., and the threat of rain did not dampen their enthusiasm.
In the early 1930s, when Eleanor Roosevelt visited Elkins to plan the Randolph County Homestead Project, she took a great deal of interest in traditional Appalachian music, arts and crafts. Jane Birdsong, acting as Mrs. Roosevelt, encouraged dancers in the Virginia Reel on the Kump House driveway to music played by Elm Street Alley Cats.
The historic Kump House in Elkins is the site of the New Deal at the Crossroads, a special fair with a 1930s theme that showcased local artisans, traditional music, dancing, food and more.
Exhibitors showed the beauty of local stitch-craft traditions inside the historic Kump home. Julia Varner demonstrated decorative tatting on doilies, handkerchiefs and linens. Diann Cashells explained the intricacies of crazy quilting in the 19th century and displayed a variety of creative samples, including one from the Kump family. Leslie Gordon used a loom to demonstrate weaving, one of the local crafts Roosevelt was most interested in developing as a cottage industry.
In the 1930s, hoboes who were down on their luck were still willing to work. Ed Griesel defined a hobo as a hoe boy who had lost his job on the farm. Hoboes wanted to work to pay for their food rather than accept charity. Griesel explained the "Code of the Road" and the ingenious ways hoboes could survive on almost nothing.
Will Rogers, played by Randal Reeder, joked, "I'm not a member of any organized political party. I'm a Democrat."
H.G. Kump, also known as Lee Biola, hosted the old-fashioned Pie Auction and generally made folks feel welcome at the Kump Farm. Thirty some local bakers made beautiful pies for the event. Some of these culinary creations sold for more than $100. One was Michael Mihalyo's amazing rum cake, and another was Beth King's pecan pie from a recipe used in the 1950s at the Magnolia Room of Rich's Department Stores in Atlanta, Ga.
Katy McClane and Scottie Wiest offered creative activities in the Children's Art Tent. Little ones enjoyed face painting, marbles games, hand puppets and hand-built pottery. Jim Fregonara's lessons in juggling engaged both adults and children.
In the south lawn, arts and crafts items for sale included Maggi Rhudy's aprons, Mandy Sullivan's paintings, Rachel Varner's cane stools, Maurice Brown's musical instruments and Bill Williams' wooden toys.
Pam Bryn made baskets while she watched her golden geese in the orchard. The apple trees in the orchard and the community garden were both planted and tended by the Sustainability Studies Program at Davis & Elkins College.
The Elkins Rotary Club brought its well-known chicken chariot to the Kroger parking lot, where club members cooked up 150 to chicken dinners for the event. These meals were sent across the street to be sold for the benefit of Kump Center.
New Deal at the Crossroads was the culmination of six months of work to improve the condition of the grounds at Kump Center. The lawn and flower gardens were much improved by the effort of members of the Community Correction program, under the direction of local gardener, Roger Elza. AmeriCorps volunteers, led by Logan Smith, spent long hours scraping the front pillars and getting them painted just in time for the event.
All the proceeds from New Deal at the Crossroads event will be used to match a grant from the West Virginia State Historic Preservation Office to restore windows on the front of the Kump house.