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Pickin' in the Panhandle BBQ and Bluegrass Festival will move to Shiley Acres near Inwood, W.Va.

February 02, 2013|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD | matthewu@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Pickin’ in the Panhandle will be staged at a new venue in 2013, but the seventh year of the West Virginia State BBQ and Bluegrass Festival in Berkeley County is staying close to its roots.

After six years at Lazy A Campground in Back Creek Valley, the music festival and its Kansas City Barbecue Society-sanctioned competition scheduled for Sept. 6 to 8 will move to Shiley Acres, an outdoor concert venue near Inwood, W.Va.

Last year, an estimated 4,000 people attended over the course of the three-day festival, which has attracted dozens of barbecuers, said Laura Gassler, acting executive director of the convention and visitors bureau. Some came for one day, while others stayed for the weekend, Gassler said.

“We basically wanted to take the event to the next level,” Gassler said of the bureau’s decision to move the event.

With a new partnership with Shiley Acres Promotions LLC, the bureau will get back to its “core mission” of tourism promotion, Gassler told the Berkeley County Council on Thursday.

The bureau will continue to promote the event and oversee the barbecue competition, but Shiley Acres will produce the music program at its venue at 1446 Nadenbousch Lane, Gassler said.

At Lazy A Campground, Gassler said the bureau handled all facets of the event’s production and had to rent the stage equipment for the music performances.

Shiley Acres is less than four miles off Interstate 81 south of Martinsburg. The Lazy A Campground is about nine miles from the interstate.

“We’re still going to have camping and many of the same activities,” Gassler said.

Shiley Acres, which has a permanent band shell, reopened last summer after being closed for several years. The concert venue was founded in 1976.

Gassler said she expects the bureau will able to save considerable money just by not having to set up the stage for the festival and can focus more attention on advertising the event.

Pickin’ in the Panhandle lost more than $100,000 combined in 2010 and 2011, but Andrea Ball, the bureau’s former executive director, had said the event was not intended to be a revenue maker. 

Ball, who resigned in December after more than six years at the helm, said the festival’s economic impact on the community amounted to more than $6 million in 2011.

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Eastern Panhandle events

The return of Pickin’ in the Panhandle is one of many special events and festivals slated for 2013 in the Eastern Panhandle.
Also scheduled, according to area tourism officials, are the following;
Feb. 23 — Berkeley Springs (W.Va.) International Water Tasting
April 19-21 — Uniquely West Virginia Wine & Food Festival/9th Redbud Weekend, Berkeley Springs
April 20-21 — Tough Mudder, Mid-Atlantic spring, Peacemaker National Training Center, Gerrardstown, W.Va.
April 27 — Martinsburg Chocolate Fest/Book Faire
May 11 — Martinsburg Heritage Day
May 11-12 — Thunder Over the Blue Ridge Open House & Air Show, Eastern West Virginia Regional Airport
May 18 — Ranson (W.Va.) Festival
May 25-26 — West Virginia Wine & Arts Festival, Martinsburg
June 1 — North Mountain Arts Festival, Hedgesville, W.Va.
June 14-16 — Mountain Heritage Arts & Crafts Festival (spring), Harpers Ferry, W.Va.
July 5-28 — Contemporary American Theatre Festival, Shepherdstown, W.Va.
July 13 — Hillbilly Daylilies Bloomin’ Bash, Bunker Hill, W.Va.
Aug. 17 — Martinsburg Bike Night
Sept. 21 — Charles Town (W.Va.) Heritage Festival
Sept. 27-29 — Mountain Heritage Arts & Crafts Festival (fall), Harpers Ferry
Oct. 5 — Main Street Martinsburg Chili Cook-Off
Oct. 12-13 — Apple Butter Festival, Berkeley Springs
Oct. 18-20 — Mountain State Apple Harvest Festival, Martinsburg
Oct. 19-20 — Tough Mudder, Mid-Atlantic fall, Peacemaker National Training Center, Gerrardstown (tentative location)

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