CLARKSBURG, W.Va. — The thirty-second annual West Virginia Black Heritage Festival (WVBHF) held its opening ceremony on Clarksburg’s Main Street at 12 p.m. on Sept. 10.
The opening ceremony began with a prayer, and remembering past board members and lives lost to 9/11 in a moment of silence. The Negro and country’s National Anthems rang through the streets of Clarksburg, which then led into the crowning of the Adult King, Dana Brooks, and Queen, Sherri James, as well as the Youth King, Jaidyn West and Queen, Maylee Henderson.
Miss Jocelyn Sykes was welcomed on stage and announced as Princess. It was also told that she will be traveling to New York to represent West Virginia with the Down Syndrome Coalition. Her picture will hang in Time Square.
Not only did the festival have local vendors, but they invited vendors from all around the country. Vendors from Virginia, North Carolina, New York, and South Carolina joined the festival for the weekend.
Dorian A. James, Vice Chairman for the WVBHF Board, mentioned that he was excited and humbled to be back on the streets of Clarksburg. He said, “we’re humbled, you know, after taking this break, and being able to come back and be among your friends and family and enjoy an event that has great music and food, and fun atmosphere. Couldn’t ask for anything better, love it!”
The festival brings together a ton of different personalities, levels of energies, and career backgrounds. Not only are the people attending the festival looking for good food and fun, but they also share ideals on things they can do together to help in taking initiative in the city of Clarksburg and state of West Virginia as a whole.
West Virginia Black Heritage Festival’s Board talks about social events, how to get involved and improve communities, and sharing how to work with young people. James mentioned that this is the first year that they could bring in multiple levels of different age groups. From the elementary ages, to high school and college, and even adults and seniors.
To see all the age groups finally coming together to celebrate as friends and family, since the COVID-19 pandemic, is beyond exciting. James said that they would love to continue doing it to for the community, in which it will return again next September.
Although the festival takes place every September, the Board, which is full of volunteers, continues to work hard throughout the whole year. They have workshops to help citizens get jobs, introducing more people to technology resources, and bringing other jobs to the public attention. The board is proud of the work they do in diversifying the workforce. James not only loves what they do in September, but that fact that they do their best to help make the citizens in the community successful, year round.
There were health vendors also in attendance, in which they were doing different tests, vaccines, and giving information on a variety of health topics including eating habits and diets, how to improve health overall, and how to exercise correctly.
On Sunday, Sept. 11, the festival’s day will start with Praise and Worship with Mt. Zion Baptist Church and will start at 11 a.m., with guest speaker, Pastor Arica Cox. Music will begin after Praise and Worship, and will finish up at 6 p.m. to close the festival until next year.