The Fayette Tribune, Oak Hill, W.Va.

August 19, 2013

Springdale’s Walker ‘Belle’ of the folk ball


GLENVILLE — Mildred “Biddie” Walker of Springdale was honored as the Fayette County Belle at the 64th annual West Virginia Folk Festival in Gilmer County this summer.

A member of the local homemakers group, now known as the Springdale Community Educational Outreach Service (CEOS), for more than 50 years, Walker was among representatives from 25 other West Virginia counties to be the honored guests at the annual event. The organizers invite each of the state’s 55 counties to select a representative to be honored as the county Belle at the festival which pays tribute to the state’s heritage.

Walker said she felt very honored to be chosen to represent her home county at the festival.

The Belles have been a featured part of the festival for 56 of its 64 years, and each woman chosen must meet certain qualifications, according to Folk Festival organizers: “They must be at least 70 years old, possess the pioneering spirit that characterizes our mountain heritage, and reside in West Virginia.

“The women must represent the importance of home and family in preserving our culture, moral values, traditions, crafts and work skills.”

At the festival, the Belles are housed on the Glenville State College campus, and are involved in a number of events, including the annual parade.

The four-day festival each June features a number of heritage demonstrations such as candle dipping, basket making and jelly making, along with contests such as a spelling bee and a cast iron cook-off. Workshops on shape note singing are offered, as well as story telling sessions and ghost story telling sessions.

Music is an integral part of the Folk Festival, with square dances, a singing tent, music programs and fiddle and banjo contests.

For more on the Folk Festival, visit the website at www.wvstatefolkfestival.com.