BUCKHANNON, W.Va. — Randall Reid-Smith, commissioner of the W.Va. Division of Culture and History, will serve as the honorary parade marshal for the West Virginia Strawberry Festival’s Grand Feature Parade this Saturday in Buckhannon.
Marking its 74th year of celebrating the strawberry, the Strawberry Festival’s Grand Feature Parade kicks off at 1 p.m. Saturday down Strawberry Lane.
Reid-Smith has served as the commissioner of the West Virginia Division of Culture and History since 2006. His responsibilities include oversight for the West Virginia Commission on the Arts, Archives and History Commission, Capitol Building Commission, and Records Management and Preservation Board, while administering the Arts Section, Archives Section, Historic Section, and the Museums Section for the state of West Virginia.
While Reid-Smith has been commissioner, the Division has introduced several programs designed to support youth involvement in arts and history including the West Virginia State History Bowl, the Festival of Songs for middle and high school show choirs, the West Virginia Marching Band Invitational and the first statewide initiative of the VH1 Save The Music Foundation’s program bringing free musical instruments to qualified pre-K through middle schools in West Virginia. In 2013, Reid-Smith received the prestigious Support Music award from the National Association of Music Merchants and the National Association for Music Education for his support of and leadership during the statewide rebuild of West Virginia music education programs.
Since the mid-1980s, Reid-Smith maintained an international career as an operatic tenor. He taught private voice lessons and master classes at colleges around the country. Before returning to his native West Virginia, he served as the director of Education and Outreach and Production at the Toledo (Ohio) Opera Association. Reid-Smith is an accomplished opera singer who has won numerous competitions at the state and regional level and is written up in the International Who’s Who of Music and Musicians. He received a Masters of Music from Indiana University and a Bachelor of Music from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. Reid-Smith was awarded an honorary doctorate of Music from Glenville State University. In 2011, Fairness West Virginia presented Reid-Smith with the Ian Gibson-Smith Award for exemplifying LGBT activism through outstanding service, professionalism and performance in everyday life.
Reid-Smith, who performed in band and choir as a youth, continues to enjoy attending band competitions, band programs and show choir competitions around the state. He has served as an adjudicator for several invitationals and competitions.
The Strawberry Festival celebrates the strawberry and the West Virginia Department of Agriculture will offer West Virginia berries for sale in two locations this year. The berries will be sold at two tents — one in front of the Upshur County Courthouse and the second across from Smoker Friendly on Kanawha Street (also known as Strawberry Lane) — on Friday and Saturday, May 16. The tents will be staffed by the Department of Agriculture and volunteers who will sell pints for $5.
The Grand Feature Parade will include honor band Cabell-Midland High School, the Pittsburgh Steelers drum line, Morgantown High School’s marching band and many other state and regional groups.
Queen Marlisa Lake of Fairmont and King Cole Payne of Buckhannon, join Teen Queen Isabel Raese of Morgantown and Mrs. Strawberry Amanda Duffy of Winfield, as this year’s festival royalty.
For a full schedule of the 74th West Virginia Strawberry Festival, visit www.wvstrawberry.com. The 75th West Virginia Strawberry Festival Diamond Jubilee will be May 14-22, 2016.