BECKLEY, W.V. (LOOTPRESS) – The annual Rhododendron Festival will showcase several spring events happening in the Beckley area during the month of May of 2021. Even though some of the festival’s past signature events are not planned this year, cruises, concerts, walks, a photo contest, pickleball tourney and other activities are being scheduled to celebrate the festival.
On May 8, a Neighborhood Cruise will ride around the McLean Addition and Harper Road. Show vehicles can line up at the Cross Point Church on Crescent Road between 4:00 and 4:30 p.m. The route will be the same as last year’s cruise, with an added option to ride around Old Mill Village and cruise Robert C. Byrd Drive. Participants can ride to Shade Tree Car Club’s scheduled cruise-in at Logan’s to show their vehicles during the evening.
On May 15, Shade Tree Car Club will feature a Car and First Responders Show at Little Beaver State Park from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Music will be provided by East of Memphis.
Also, on May 15, the Raleigh County Historical Society will host a marker dedication for the Bill Withers marker across from Stratton Elementary School at 11 a.m. Afterward, Matt Mullins has organized several musicians to perform Bill Withers songs at the Beckley Intermodal Gateway Plaza between noon and 6 p.m. Some of the performers include Drew Lawrence, Lady D, The Carpenter Ants, Lords of Lester, Shawn Benfield, The Untrained Professionals, and Matt Mullins and the Bringdowns. A few vendors will be on site. Future projects to honor Withers, the Grammy-winning, singer-songwriter from our area, will be announced.
A Rhododendron Festival Pickleball Tournament is tentatively being planned for May 22. Contact Dave Barksdale at either 304-673-8390 or 304-763-5885 for more information.
A rhododendron-themed cruise and walks are planned for May 22. Cruise vehicles can join the line-up at the Beckley-Raleigh County Memorial Airport between 4 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. From Airport Road, the cruise will follow Scott Ridge Road and ride thru The Oak Subdivision on way to Grandview Park to view rhododendrons and overlooks. Park Rangers at Grandview will lead a couple of rhododendron walks around the park at 4 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. The group walks may be limited to 25 participants. Grandview, part of the New River Gorge National Park, is a premier location to view rhododendrons in the area with a backdrop of blooms in the parking area to outstanding views at the overlooks.
Scott Worley is organizing a Coalfield Architecture Tour on May 22. Meeting at the Raleigh Playhouse & Theater at 6 p.m., the event includes a walking tour and presentation on Alex Mahood, Architect of the Coalfields. The tour is priced at $10.
The Raleigh Playhouse & Theatre is planning an in-person Open Mic event on Monday, May 24 at 7 p.m. During 2020 -and so far in 2021- the theatre’s open mic events have been virtual, so they are excited to host an event at the theatre during the festival. To reserve a performance slot, message the theatre directly on Facebook at facebook.com/TheRaleighWV or email TheRaleighWV@gmail.com.
Active Southern WV’s Full Moon group bike ride and walk on May 26 will be part of the festival. Interested participants can meet at the McManus Trail Art Park at the 3rd Ave Art Park at 8 p.m.
The festival also promotes the WV Miners home baseball games on Friday, May 28 and Saturday, May 29. Games begin at 6:35 p.m. at Linda K. Epling Stadium. Fireworks will be featured following the May 29 game.
The festival finale on May 29 will feature a neighborhood cruise that ends with concerts. Cruise vehicles can line up at Park Middle School between 4 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. The route will circle the Park area neighborhood and end at the Beckley Intermodal Gateway for concerts. Motown songs will be performed by How Great Thou Art group at 5:30 p.m., and 80’s songs will be performed by Quiet Enough at 6:30 p.m. at the Beckley Intermodal Gateway Plaza.
Also, during the month of May, Active Southern WV will host a Facebook Photo Contest. While hiking on trails or at parks near Beckley, take a photo of rhododendrons and submit it to the 2021 Rhododendron Festival event page with the hashtag #WVRhodofest21 by May 29 for a chance to win a prize with the most “likes.” The contest is for amateur photographers only.
Festival visitors are also encouraged to check out local attractions such as the Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine and Youth Museum, Tamarack, Beckley Art Center, Mountain State Mini-Golf, and other nearby sites.
For more information about festival events, contact Beckley Events at 304-256-1776, follow “Beckley Events” on Facebook or visit www.beckley.org. The festival committee appreciates sponsorship funds from the Beckley-Raleigh County CVB (raleighcountyevents.com) and partnerships with event hosts.
It is recommended that attendees follow the CDC guidelines pertaining to Covid-19 and continue being careful by social distancing as much as possible.