MADISON, W.Va. (WOWK) — The 27th Annual West Virginia Coal Festival drew thousands of people to Boone County to celebrate their history and heritage month.
“We used to be the number one coal-producing county in the state of West Virginia,” said Delores Cook, Coal Festival President.
In recent years the coal industry has not only declined in Boone county, but also in the entire state.
“You know, I’m saddened at some point that the coal industry isn’t like it used to be, but there are still opportunities out there,” said John Goroncy, Retired Coal Miner.
Generations of West Virginia families grew up in the coal mining industry and it’s become a way of life.
“I’m actually a coal miner’s daughter, so that’s a great sense of pride, and I hate that the coal industry is not going where we would like it to go,” Crystal Cook, Coal Festival Parade Director.
With the demand for coal dwindling due to a shift to cleaner energy sources, jobs in coal mining towns like Madison are disappearing and people are leaving, and residents are looking to Washington for help.
“I think we need some political pull around the United States and our leaders in Washington to help us get the coal industry back on its feet,” said Madison Mayor Buddy Hudson.
Looking into the future, some residents hope state or federal funding will be approved to help support the coal mining towns that are suffering.
“We are fighters and there is going to be something good, I’m sure, that will come to our county to help our economic development,” said Cook.
This coal mining town shows a great pride for their heritage and what makes West Virginia home.