While West Jefferson’s Centennial celebration won’t officially start until next year, planning is already well under way and some kick-off events are set to occur in the next several months.
“The primary focus of the celebration will begin in 2015, however, this year we will have a booth at the Christmas in July festival, and we’ll also have a West Jefferson Land Sale and Celebration of Descendants,” Lynn Rees-Jones, coordinator of the Centennial, said.
Rees-Jones said a presentation and community picnic to recognize the descendants of the town’s 58 original land purchasers will take place during the West Jefferson Antiques Fair at Bowie Seagraves Park on Sept. 20. There’s also a checkers tournament planned for the same day.
“We have a good team in place and we are making progress,” Rees-Jones said. “As with any such celebration, there is a lot that goes into planning.”
A website for the Centennial (www.westjefferson100.com) recently went live and is still in the process of being developed.
Events set to take place in 2015 include a dinner and film debut of “A Video History of West Jefferson,” a painting and photography exhibit titled “Historic Reflections of West Jefferson” which will take place in January and February, an official homecoming and birthday party, concerts and a storytelling/play.
The Ashe County Arts Council, Catchlight Gallery, Florence Thomas Art School, Ashe County Public Library and local car clubs will all be sponsoring Centennial-related events throughout the year.
Rees-Jones said there are a number of special projects being planned to commemorate the town’s 100th birthday.
“Our current focus is on developing events, organizing merchandising opportunities with our logo and formulating a plan for our Legacy Project and its funding,” Rees-Jones said.
The West Jefferson Centennial Commission (WJCC) would like to install Centennial signage throughout the town, fund and execute a Legacy Project and mint a coin featuring the Centennial’s logo.
The Ashe County Chamber is already planning a Christmas ornament to mark the Centennial.
Rees-Jones is especially grateful to the WJCC and is also encouraging those interested in volunteering to get in touch with her.
The WJCC was established in 2013 and its members include: Chris Barr, John Kilby Reeves, Dot Green, Talara Parrish, Stephen Shoemaker, Anne McGuire, Joann Woodie, Phil McMillan, Jerry McMillan and Gene Hafer.
“Volunteers will be a key to a successful celebration and we have gotten some positive responses from community residents but are certainly looking for more,” Rees-Jones said. “We are not just looking for individual volunteers, but also churches, clubs, and nonprofits to host their own events.”
Assembling a community quilt, golf tournament, historic arts and crafts demonstrations, parade and a historic sites tour are just a few of the things volunteers may host or participate in.
“We would also love for the school students to participate,” Rees-Jones said. “This is an opportunity for everyone to get involved.”
Above all else, Rees-Jones hope residents — both new and old — as well as tourists, embrace and take part in next year’s celebration.
“We anticipate that our events will draw locals and people from outside the area,” Rees-Jones said. “We especially hope that past residents will return home to West Jefferson for some of the events.”
For more information on the Centennial or to express interest in volunteering, visit the website or email Rees-Jones at email@example.com.
Alan Bulluck can be reached at (336) 846-7164 or on Twitter @albulluck.