by Darlene J. Taylor
Many area residents took advantage of the beautiful weather to celebrate West Virginia's 138th birthday on the Harrison County Courthouse Plaza.
Darrian Duckworth and her dad, Chris, of Stonewood, had not attended for 10 years.
"I'm just enjoying my summer and eating cake," she said.
"We love living in West Virginia," added her dad.
The Greater Clarksburg Associates and Fox 46 sponsored the 24th annual event that featured country music by Jim Bunch and a band of volunteers, Miss West Virginia 2000, Jodi Clark, and the Miss West Virginia 2001 contestants, as well as a special visit by Del. Barbara Warner, D-Harrison and Secretary of State Joe Manchin.
"I'm honored to be invited here today to help celebrate West Virginia's birthday. I love everything about the state and am happy to talk about its history and famous people," said Warner.
Wilbert Clevenger of Clarksburg said he came to see what was going on. His friend, Clarence Jones of Anmoore, said he attends the event about every year.
"It's very important to celebrate this day, especially for veterans," said the World War II veteran.
Kroger and the Harrison County General Federation of Women's Clubs provided the birthday cake that was offered to everyone attending.
"The Woman's Clubs have been participating since the celebration began. It is a great way to show pride in our state," said Georgia Harrison, member of the Clarksburg Woman's Club.
Jane Lewis of the Lost Creek Woman's Club said she is proud to be from West Virginia. "It is an important day for the state," she said.
Miss West Virginia 2000 thanked everyone for a great year visiting the 55 counties and traveling 43,000 miles to promote the scholarship pageant.
Each of the 2001 contestants introduced themselves, with Miss Harrison County Ashley Reed bringing the biggest applause.
Reed was the last to approach the microphone.
"I am excited and having lots of fun," said Reed. "It is a wonderful experience and a good way to help fund your education."
Jim Bunch has been entertaining West Virginia Day audiences for a dozen years. "I love to do it. The music makes people happy and I get to do what I enjoy," said the 43-year veteran entertainer, who also drives a school bus.
He brought along a band of volunteers that included three other Harrison County bus drivers and a Liberty High School student.
They were Tony Audia, lead guitar; Earl Arbogast, rhythm guitar and vocals; Tom Paugh, bass and vocals, and Brandon Williams, 16, on drums.
Bunch performed an a capella rendition of the National Anthem followed by a sing-along of "Almost Heaven West Virginia" with most everyone participating.
Janice McMurdo, who brought her 88-year-old mom, Minnie Underwood, said she comes every year. "West Virginia is a wonderful state. We wouldn't be anywhere else."
Staff writer Darlene Taylor can be reached at 626-1442 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.