W.Va. community gearing up for Katrina benefit fair

September 28, 2005|by CANDICE BOSELY

GERRARDSTOWN, W.Va. - Eliza Burton fell in love, even though her partner turns frigid in the winter and is slanted in different directions.

"I moved here out of sheer romance," Burton said, referring to her Gerrardstown home, the core of which was built in 1791 and which still has some if its original features, including doors and wooden floors.

This Saturday, Burton said she plans to open her home and its three porches to the public during a daylong festival planned in the small hamlet.


Live bluegrass and gospel music, antique sales, baked goods, pony rides, dog-related events and historical talks are a few highlights of the event, with proceeds to benefit the American Red Cross' Hurricane Katrina relief efforts.

Belinda Hughes, who owns The Corner Cafe and Grocery with Eric Weber, is helping to organize the event.

History buffs can watch dancers in 1860s period costumes and hear historical talks centering on the town's churches. Two antique stores in the town will be open, along with a blacksmith's shop, Hughes said.

The idea for the festival originated at the store when a jar was put out for donations for the Red Cross. Although several hundred dollars was raised, Weber and Hughes wanted to do more.

They hope to raise $10,000 during the festival.

Red Cross officials will have a booth during the festival and will accept registrations for a blood drive scheduled for the following Saturday, Oct. 8, at Gerrardstown Elementary School, Hughes said.

Several of the events planned during Saturday's festival revolve around man's best friend.

Starting at 1 p.m., contests will include a costume relay race, along with contests for the dog with the longest tail and biggest ears.

A pet parade is planned, and for 25 cents people can vote for their favorite pet. Prizes will be awarded.

Dogs involved should be friendly, on a leash, registered and vaccinated for rabies.

Every hour, prizes will be raffled.

All events will be in Gerrardstown's unofficial "town square" at the intersection of W.Va. 51 - also known as Gerrardstown Road - and Dominion Road.

In the late 18th and early 19th centuries as the Ohio Valley was becoming populated with settlers, Gerrardstown was known as "The Gateway to the West," festival organizers said.

The town is listed on the National Register of Historical Places and once had five stores, two funeral homes, a carriage repair shop and churches that were used as hospitals by both the North and the South during the Civil War, Burton said.

Originally from Los Angeles, Burton said she was familiar with Virginia but never envisioned herself living in West Virginia.

The festival offers a chance to show off the town, which Burton said retains its original character despite encroaching development.

"I just love this town with a passion," she said.

If you go ...

Benefit fair for Hurricane Katrina relief efforts

Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Gerrardstown, W.Va., at the intersection of W.Va. 51 and Dominion Road

Events include live music, historical-related events, children's activities and antique sales

For more information, call The Corner Cafe and Grocery in Gerrardstown, 304-229-2040.

To reach the festival, take Interstate 81 to exit 5, Inwood, and head west on W.Va. 51 for three miles

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