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WVU’s 70th annual celebration of Mountaineer Week begins Friday

WVU Today

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia University’s Mountaineer Week gives students and other guests the opportunity to discover the historically rich culture of West Virginia and Appalachia by showcasing music, cuisine, arts, influential people and various traditions that make West Virginia unique.

A basket weaver at work during the 2016 WVU Mountaineer Week Craft Fair.
(WVU Today photo)

The celebration, now in its 70th year, will kick off at 11:30 a.m. Friday (Oct. 20) with an opening ceremony in the Mountainlair Ballroom, featuring keynote speaker Tom Sloane, a retired long-term WVU student life administrator, and a musical performance by Mountaineer Idol finalist Natto Soares.

“Educating our students on the culture and history of our state is our number one priority,” said Sonja Wilson, Mountaineer Week advisor. “Our program has become one of the premier events in West Virginia that encompasses the unique aspects of Appalachian life, music, food, crafts, and programs that are multifaceted for diverse audiences.”

“This year’s anniversary will continue longstanding traditions such as the Craft Fair and Quilt Show, renew old favorites like the Pepperoni Roll Contest and bring in new fun like the Giant Pumpkin Regatta,” Wilson said.

On Saturday (Oct. 21), more than 25 educational and entertaining groups will provide fun and games to kids as part of Family Fun Day. Highlights include horse and buggy rides, face painting, balloons, therapy dogs, aviary birds and team mascots. InStep Dance, guitarist Charles Engleka, the WVU Steel Drum Band, the Paul Robeson Mahalia Jackson Choir and WVU cheerleaders will perform on stage.

Sunday (Oct. 22) will be full of new spins on old traditions for Mountaineer Week. At 1:30 p.m., the inaugural Giant Pumpkin Regatta will kick off at Hazel Ruby McQuain Park, where half-ton hollowed pumpkins will be used as boats in an exciting relay race between four teams: the WVU Horticulture Club, the WVU Men’s Rowing Club, the WVU Veteran’s Club, and teachers of North Elementary School.

In addition, Sunday has been dubbed the inaugural Pepperoni Roll Day, an event celebrating the unofficial state food of West Virginia. Candace Nelson, author of “The West Virginia Pepperoni Roll,” will be on hand to sign books while six Morgantown businesses will compete in a Pepperoni Roll Contest, all open to the public.

New features this year will also include a Civil War encampment, a 70-foot-long pepperoni roll, celebration of famous West Virginian Pearl S. Buck, recognition of National Day of the Deployed and treats during National Pumpkin Day.

Other student events throughout the week include the PRT Cram, the beard growing competition finals, the Bob Huggins 3-on-3 basketball tournament, and the Student LOT Tailgate on Saturday (Oct. 28). The week will conclude with the finale of Mountaineer Idol on Sunday (Oct. 29) at 3 p.m. in the Mountainlair Ballrooms.

Mountaineer Week began in 1947 as just one night of school spirit surrounding the WVU vs. University of Kentucky football game. Through the years, it has evolved into a multi-day festival celebrating all aspects of West Virginian culture.

For a complete schedule of events, visit


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