After a full year of Coronavirus fear and hysteria, we are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. On Saturday, April 24, we attended our first local festival since December 7, 2019. Grant County conducted its annual Spring Mountain Festival over the weekend at the City Park in Petersburg. Although it is not a large event that attracts throngs of people from the large metro areas of Washington, Baltimore, and Pittsburgh, a good crowd of people from our area turned out for the event. We were pleased to meet up with many of our local friends and neighbors, some of whom we had not previously seen in public for more than a year. Many of the attendees were not wearing facemasks, which made them much easier to identify.
According to the latest statistics from the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (as of April 25) just shy of 700,000 of the state’s 1.8 million people have received at least one COVID vaccine shot and over 550,000 have been fully immunized. Barb and I received our second and final shot a month-and-a-half ago. According to all the reports we are hearing, West Virginia’s vaccination rate currently ranks among the top in the nation. This has given us some measure of hope that we can begin returning to normal, and Governor Justice has removed some of the COVID restrictions that have been in place for the better part of a year. Now that outdoor festivals are allowed, we can enjoy some of the activities we used to take for granted. In recent weeks, our Dorcus Baptist Church attendance has gradually recovered close to pre-COVID levels, as the vast majority of the current congregation has received the vaccination. Our church is one of the few that continued to conduct basic services throughout most of the shutdown and, as far as we know, none of those who attended contracted the virus at the church services, even though a handful of members and their immediate families did contract the virus from outside activities (predominantly their places of employment).
As I mentioned, this year’s Spring Mountain Festival was well attended. We enjoyed the parade, craft fair, and a wonderful performance by The Dulcimer Dames, a local group of women who played a variety of traditional Appalachian Mountain, Celtic, and folk songs. Their rendition of The West Virginia Hills and Country Roads (our two official State songs) was very well received by the audience. They also introduced some light humor into their program using an old-fashioned wooden “limberjack” jig doll to dance for two of their songs. By all accounts, the crowd was having a great time enjoying all the fresh air and comradery. It was our very first hopeful glimmer of the normality we all hope will be restored this summer. We are looking forward once again the farmer’s market season, which is tentatively scheduled to begin in Petersburg on the first Saturday in June—garden growth permitting.
We hope everyone will be able to experience the simple pleasure and joy of a normal life again soon. Please don’t allow the fears and hysteria of our recent past to cast a permanent dark shadow over the future lives of our children. Given the long history we’ve had of past pandemics that were far more severe and deadly than the current COVID epidemic, we really need to temper our perspective and work progressively to fully restore the normal pattern of our lives. The recent Spring Mountain Festival was the perfect medicine and a great beginning for that determined effort.