It's always exciting to head out-of-state for summer vacation. Last year, I had the wonderfully exciting opportunity to head to Bristol, Tenn., with my boyfriend and friends for a NASCAR race. Beside the experience of attending a NASCAR race for the first time, there were so many new experiences-my first trip to Sonic, first trip to Five Guys Burgers and Fries, an unforgettable moment of walking across the track at Bristol Motor Speedway, and, obviously, my first time to Tennessee! My most recent out-of-state experience, besides Bristol, was a trip to Florida in 2008 with my sister and brother-in-law. There I saw the ocean for the first time and paid a visit to Disney World as well, of course.
Regardless of these once-in-a-lifetime experiences, there's always the same safe and secure, almost relieved feelings about heading home, to good ol' West Virginia. I might sound crazy, but I don't think there is any place else I'd rather live. When Editor Amy Witschey decided to ask readers about "My West Virginia," I had no qualms about offering my input and forcing her to put this column in the paper. Here follows my favorite parts of this Wild and Wonderful State:
- Fairs and Festivals. I'm a Tyler County gal, and so the Tyler County Fair is the fair I'm most familiar with, along with the Harvest Festival. No matter how old I am, I will never tire of either event. There is something quite nostalgic-feeling about attending each of those festivals each year. Popular fair attractions for me have always been the queen's pageant, the Colgate (now Texaco) Country Showdown, visiting the horses in the stables, eating snow cones with my sister, and a few favorite rides. For years, I would ride the ferris wheel with my dad each year. It was a tradition for many years of my youth; even though those days are past, every time I see the ferris wheel, there's always a feeling of comfort.
- The Mountaineers. As an alumnae, of course I have a special place for all things blue and gold. But as with Amy, from last week's column, I don't think it matters. I do believe the Mountaineers are West Virginia's professional sports team. The Mountaineers have had so many moments throughout college-sports history where they have made West Virginians proud. They, nationally, show what West Virginians are made of - they show the spirit of our state, which bleeds gold and blue. There are few things more comforting than a crisp, sunny fall weekend afternoon of West Virginia football.
- Holidays in West Virginia. Granted, I've never experienced Christmas in another state, but I do not think it could get any better than a Thanksgiving or Christmas in West Virginia. I do not know about readers, but I know that when I was younger, a favorite part of the holiday-season was to drive around Middlebourne or New Martinsville to gaze at peoples' Christmas lights, lighting up their houses at night. Many people around this area get into the holiday spirit as early as November, and though some people may have a problem with that, I don't see anything wrong with it at all. It shows how very special the holiday season is to people and their families around here. I remember few Christmas gifts from my childhood holidays, but I'll always keep the memories and feelings of coming together with family, very close.
- Beauty of seasons. We are lucky to live in an area where we experience each season in a different way. There's the coolness and newness of spring; the hot, lazy days of summer; the crisp, yet warm days of autumn; and the cold, yet somewhat comforting, days of winter. Do Californians or Alaskans get this? To each their own, but for me, I'll accept both the 90s and the 20s.
- Farms and four-wheeler riding. I'm fairly new to all of this, but I feel very blessed to have been introduced to all these things. Granted, I don't consider myself a farmer, but to me, a good afternoon includes time in my Ariats visiting with my buddy's calves and Daisy (the donkey), along with a ride in the gator or on the four-wheeler. It's inexpensive; it's simple; it's sometimes very muddy, yet it's what I enjoy best. It's my West Virginia.
What is Your West Virginia? Let us know and maybe we'll include it in the June 19 edition of the Wetzel Chronicle celebrating West Virginia's sesquicentennial, our 150th birthday!
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