WILLIAMSON — It’s been 40 years since the first King Coal Festival was held in downtown Williamson, and it continues to be a highly anticipated event by both the local community and those who have moved away throughout the years.
Although changes in the activities that make up the festival have occurred as years have passed, several traditions have withstood the test of time, including the leadership of the Action in Mingo (AIM) Group that plans, organizes and oversees the September event.
Mae Stallard has served as President of the AIM group since the first King Coal took place 40 years ago, and is as dedicated in 2012 as she was when it all first began in 1978. Although health issues may slightly hinder the amount of time she “hits the pavements” in preparation for the upcoming festival, she considers herself blessed to have a strong group of volunteers to assist her with every aspect of the necessary planning and preparation process.
Needless to say, the scales have been raised for this year’s King Coal Festival, since 2012 is the 40th anniversary celebration of the popular event.
Tuesday evening, board members of the AIM group joined Stallard on the second floor of the Williamson Fire Department for an in-depth meeting attended by several devoted volunteers, who, according to Stallard, will be meeting each Tuesday at 5 p.m. until the festival date.
“We’ve got a lot accomplished, but there’s still a lot of work to be done before September 13,” said the president. “I cannot emphasize how important it is for all AIM members to plan to attend these meetings, if at all possible.
“We need everyone to be actively involved if our 40th annual festival is going to be the success that we want it to be, and that we know it can be.”
One welcome change to the 2012 King coal festival that AIM members voiced their excitement about is the first ever “Media Kick-Off Day”, scheduled to be held on Friday, Aug. 17 at 5 p.m., inside the Mountaineer Hotel on Second Avenue.
The event will be utilized to inform all media outlets including newspapers and radio and television stations about the schedule for the festival, additions and changes from previous years, and most importantly, the unveiling of the “40th Annual King Coal Festival” logo, which was chosen from a series of entries from local students who entered a design contest.
“”We will be unveiling the logo and presenting the winner with his/her prize,” said AIM board member Jeffrey Reynolds. “This media event is going to be a fantastic way of releasing all of the important information surrounding this year’s 40th celebration to everyone at one time, and we’re confident that this will give us a great kick-off that will hopefully spark a great deal of interest in attending the King Coal Festival scheduled for September 13 - 16.”
A tentative schedule of events was discussed at the meeting, but members that were present stressed that there will be additional changes made before an official agenda is voted on and finalized.
Board member and AIM Treasurer Larry Brown informed the committee that as of Tuesday evening, 19 festival vendor positions were still available to the public, and can be reserved by going to their website at kingcoalfestival.eventbrite.com. Information regarding rules, regulations and pricing are all listed on the site. If you have additional questions or require further assistance, you may contact Brown at the Williamson City Hall at 304-235-1510.
Tentatively, this year’s festival is slated to include the tradition of making the famous “King Coal Apple Butter,” the annual Pet Show (dogs and cats only), the Baby Crawling contest, a public display featuring the winners of the CEDAR Coal Fair projects, the Miss King Coal Pageant, the Williamson Farmer’s Market, the annual Car and Motorcycle Show, a Chili Cook-Off, a 5-K Run, a Coal Mining Display/Exhibit, the King Coal Baby Pageant, an ATV Poker Run, the annual parade and King Coal Bowl, and will end with the annual Bluegrass/Gospel Pinto Bean Dinner.
Dates, locations and times for all the 40th Annual King Coal Festival events, along with more specific information about plans to honor and recognize previous Mr. King Coal winners or their survivors will be featured in an upcoming edition of the Daily News.
If you would like to contact President Stallard concerning the festival, you may reach her at 304-235-5560, and you are also welcome to speak with another AIM member if you so desire, including Machele McCormick at 304-235-0312, Connie Rockel at 304-235-0105, or Jerry Mounts at 304-235-5273.