BUCKHANNON, W.Va. — Deann Baughman of Buckhannon and her family sit in the same spot every year to watch the various parades in the West Virginia Strawberry Festival.
It’s a family tradition that’s been going on for the last five years. But that’s what the Strawberry Festival, which is in its 74th year, is all about. A lifelong resident of Buckhannon, Baughman has never missed a Strawberry Festival.
“It’s great to have those traditions,” Baughman said. “It’s going to sound silly, but ours is the kettle corn. We always go for the kettle corn. We buy two or three bags of it.”
Baughman said the parades, particularly the Junior Royalty Parade, are her favorite part of the festival. All of her children were in the Junior Royalty Parade this year.
But even if they weren’t, Baughman would still be on the sidelines. The Junior Royalty Parade is a reminder of how many area youth are involved in extracurricular activities like dance groups, twirling, school bands, scouting and many others.
“I love coming here. I love getting out and seeing all the kids show off the groups they’re in,” she said. “It’s good for them to be involved in something this day and age.”
Earlier on Thursday, the West Virginia State Council of Vietnam Veterans of America brought the Mobile Memorial Wall to Buckhannon, where it will be on display until Saturday.
The wall was escorted into town by area law enforcement agencies and numerous veteran’s organizations, including numerous veteran motorcycle groups. They roared into town, where the wall was set up in the parking lot of the Buckhannon Public Safety Complex.
The wall lists 732 Vietnam-era soldiers who registered for service in West Virginia and were killed in-country during the war. It also carries the names of prisoners of war and soldiers missing in action.
Jim Cale is the Mobile Wall Chair of the State Council. He said it was wonderful to bring the wall to Buckhannon for the first time ever.
“I consider it to be a great honor to be a part of this,” he said.
Mary Albaugh is post adjutant and commander-elect of the American Legion Post 7 of Buckhannon. She said it was wonderful to have the wall in the city.
“I’m proud and honored. When these guys rolled in my hair stood on end and my heart just started beating faster,” she said.
Albaugh said it’s important to pay respect to the soldiers who were killed in Vietnam. Her brother was one of them, and his name is etched on the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C.
“Every time I go there, I can find my brother’s name and just know in my heart he’s with me,” she said.
Second Vice President of the Council Rod Farley said the Council considers their work to be an important task.
“We’re honored to be asked to bring the wall to communities all over West Virginia. It’s available to all 55 counties,” he said.
Farley hopes many people, particularly students, will be able to learn about the Vietnam-era soldiers killed during the war while the Wall is in town.
“We hope to have as many students as possible come through. We like to educate students as to why these names were written,” he said.