BECKLEY, WV (LOOTPRESS) – The Rhododendron Festival is getting ready to kick off during the month of May. From rhododendron-themed activities to other local spring events, the festival will span the month offering special events, art activities, music, walks and recreational opportunities.
On May 5, the monthly Sunset / Full Moon Group Walk and Bike Ride on the McManus Trail. Walkers and riders will meet at the Art Park on 3rd Ave lot at 8 pm. Active Southern WV community captains lead the walk/ride to see the flower moon. Then, on Saturday, May 6, a Full Moon Walk will take place at Grandview.
The annual Sweet Treats dessert event is being planned on May 13 at the Beckley Intermodal Gateway between noon – 3 pm. The event includes sampling desserts, plus local youth performances, and an Emergency Preparedness Fair. The funds raised from sampling tickets’ sales will benefit United Way and the Bill Withers statue. A few vendor spaces are still available. If interested in participating, register by May 1 (entry form on beckley.org, click on the Beckley Events page). Youth groups performing during Sweet Treats will include the New Hope Baptist youth band, Woodrow Wilson High School Choral / Theatre students, How Great Thou Art Theatre group youth, the Beckley Children Theatre Ministry, and Faith Community youth praise band.
A pickleball tournament will be held on May 13 if the pickleball courts are ready at New River Park.
Active Southern WV will once again host a Rhododendron Photo contest accepting entries between May 14 and 27. Submit a photo of rhododendron to the 2023 Rhododendron Festival Photo Contest event page with the hashtag #WVRhodofest23 by May 27 for a chance to win a prize with the most “likes”. The contest is for amateur photographers only. Please enter only one or two of your favorite photos per person to be judged.
The Raleigh County Public Library will offer a few activities during the festival including a Rhododendron Painting Class on May 16 at 4 pm. Pre-register at the library – up to 20 participants will be accepted. The library will also offer a couple of youth activities. Children will be invited to create their own wooden Rhododendron flower for the library’s outdoor spring garden – “Grow with the Library” garden. Children will decorate and design a wooden flower to be planted in a special flower bed to brighten up the outside patio that fails to get enough sunlight to grow natural flowers. The dates will be May 15th-20th as long as supplies last. Then, from May 22nd -27th, a Lego Garden contest is planned. Children 13 and under can participate by creating their own flower garden made solely of Legos. Prizes will be awarded for 1st and 2nd place best Lego creation.
A new event, Clean for Spring Blossom, is planned at Black Knight. It will feature a silent auction, speakers, and performance by The Sparklers and Kamron Lawson (American Idol). This charity event benefits the new Blossom Boutique at WIN WV. Call 304-WIN-7083 for tickets.
Shade Tree Car Club will be having a Car Show at Little Beaver State Park on May 20 between 9 am and 4 pm. Park visitors can also enjoy fishing, paddle boating, or walking around the lake or along the park’s Rhododendron Trail.
The Raleigh County Historical Society’s annual Founders Day at Wildwood is planned for May 20 beginning at 11 am. The event includes tours of the home of Alfred Beckley, who founded the City of Beckley. Learn more about Beckley’s history by attending this event.
Festival organizers suggest taking a Sunday afternoon drive to Grandview on May 21 to view the beautiful rhododendrons in bloom. A ranger with the National Park Service will offer guided walks at Grandview at 3:00 and 4:00 pm – Meet at the Visitors’ Center to begin the walk.
The festival ends on Saturday, May 27 with the Rhododendron Car Show at Beckley Intermodal Gateway, downtown. The show will feature music by Jack & Davis Reid from 5:30-7:30 pm. The talented duo from Staunton, Virginia, enjoys playing music and making people smile. They are the sons of Wilson Fairchild, and grandsons of The Statler Brothers.
Vehicle registration for the car show will take place from 4-6 pm; the show hours go until 8 pm. With the $10 car show registration fee, entries will receive a festival challenge coin and be eligible for awards. Trophies presented at 7:45 pm.
Following the car show, Beckley Area Shag Club is hosting a Dance at the Woman’s Club, from 8-10 pm on Saturday evening. The club may dance to a few songs around 4:30 pm, before the concert at the car show, at the Beckley Intermodal Gateway.
The festival also encourages attendees to check out a couple of local exhibits during May:
May Exhibit (thru mid-September) – AnimationlandExhibit at the Youth Museum of Southern WV located beside the Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine. Open daily 10 am – 5 pm
May Exhibit (May 5 – June 10) – Les Fluers Exhibit at the Beckley Art Center, flower-themed exhibit. Open Tuesday-Saturday 11 am – 7 pm. (Opening reception: May 5 at 6 pm)
Also, a dual pageant to crown festival royalty for the Rhododendron and Appalachian Festivals was held on April 22 at Beckley-Raleigh County Convention Center. The 2023 Rhododendron Festival Miss Queen is KalLee Ellis.
For more festival details, follow Beckley Events on Facebook, or call Beckley Events 304-256-1776.