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Friends of Coal Auto Fair offers more than than classic cars

Event, in 13th year, set for Friday and Saturday at the Raleigh County Memorial Airport in Beaver

By Michelle James Lifestyles Editor

BECKLEY, W.Va. — From hotrods to ziplines, delicious food to plane rides and top-notch musical entertainment, organizers of the upcoming Friends of Coal Auto Fair say the event will have a little something for everyone of all ages.

“It’s kind of known as an auto fair, but it’s so much more,” says Josh Jones, public relations director of the Hospice of Southern West Virginia and chairman of the auto fair steering committee.

The event, now in its 13th year, will take place Friday and Saturday at the Raleigh County Memorial Airport in Beaver.

Although known for years as a fundraiser for the YMCA of Southern West Virginia, the event switched locations and benefactors in 2016 as hospice, the Women’s Resource Center and the Humane Society of Raleigh County joined together with Friends of Coal to carry on the popular summer tradition.

“It’s such a community event,” Jones says. There are so many people and groups who come together to help put it on. It really showcases southern West Virginia at its finest to be able to put together a weekend of fun.”

The weekend activities will begin Friday at 8 a.m. as car show participants begin arriving at the airport. Jones says close to 250 vehicles have already pre-registered and they are expecting more than 400 with those who register through the weekend.

Dash plaques will be awarded to the first 500 registered and awards will be given Saturday evening.

Visitors will have an opportunity to browse the various cars and talk to owners, but also enjoy other activities the fair has to offer.

Jones says Hillbilly Fun will offer laser tag and an indoor/outdoor video gaming unit. There will also be ziplining fun and bullriding.

And, because the event is at an airport, Jones says there will be an opportunity for both kids and adults to get a bit off the ground as well as a group of pilots known as “Fly High WIthout Drugs,” will provide free plane rides for kids who listen to an anti-drug message. Adults can take a ride for nominal fee.

“We’re excited about that,” Jones says.

Food vendors, crafts, swap meets and other informational areas will be set up throughout the grounds on both days.

And both Friday and Saturday will also offer evening music entertainment.

Before Friday night’s 7:30 p.m. doo-wop concert with Rick K. & the Allnighters kicks off, cars registered in the auto fair can take part in a “cruise out” from the airport into Beaver toward Shady Spring and back at 6:30 p.m.

Suzan Loving with the Humane Society of Raleigh County, says she’s looking forward to the Friday night activities, which she says will be a fun night of cars, great music and dancing.

“We’re planning a great evening and it’s just adding more to the event for people to enjoy,” she says, adding people don’t have to be part of the cruise to enjoy the concert.

Saturday’s activities kick back up at 8 a.m., and, in addition to the same games, food and shopping opportunities from the first day, will also feature free entertainment as well as the popular burnout competition.

Awards will be presented to winning cars at 5 p.m. and then the attention will shift back to the stage as weekend’s big concert, featuring country music newcomers Trent Tomlinson and Claire Dunn and headliner Aaron Tippin kicks off at 6:30 p.m.

Jones says he’s excited about the show as Tomlinson and Dunn are both making names for themselves and climbing the country charts, and Tippin has been a household name with country hits for several decades.

And, Jones says, Tippin is a car man.

“We wanted to get someone established in country music, and he’s a car guy, so we really feel like we hit a homerun,” he says. “The Friday night concert is going to be fun and Saturday night is going to be great.”

Although the most popular events will take place Friday and Saturday, the 2nd Annual Friends of Coal Gala hosted by Hospice of Southern West Virginia, the Women’s Resource Center and the Humane Society of Raleigh County will take place Thursday at 7 p.m. at the airport.

Loving said the Pasquale’s will cater the event with heavy hors d’oeuvres and guests will enjoy entertainment as well as a silent auction. Tickets are $100 and are available at Hospice on Cranberry Drive.

From the gala to the cars and concerts, Jones says the weekend and all its components will offer a fun for all.

“There’s something to do for everybody,” he says. “For car enthusiasts, food for people to eat and if you want to stay for the evening and enjoy the entertainment, there’s something fun to do for the entire family.”

And Dee Sizemore, public relations coordinator for WRC, says it’s a perfect way to give back, while having fun.

“Something positive for individuals and families in our area and beyond is great,” she says, “But when you know that you (and your family) can enjoy yourself and it is benefiting three great, local organizations, then it’s definitely a win-win.”

Tickets for the fair are $2 per person. Admission to the Friday night concert is $5 and tickets to the Saturday night concert are $20.

For more information and to purchase tickets to the Aaron Tippin concert, visit www.friendsofcoalautofair.com, call 304-255-6404 or purchase them at the gate.

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