Fairmont residents visit annual Black Heritage Festival

·3 min read

Sep. 13—CLARKSBURG — A little bit of rain won't stop West Virginians from coming out for a weekend of food, dancing and fun.

The annual Black Heritage Festival was held for the first time since 2019 over the weekend. It kicked off with a golf tournament Friday and was followed by a basketball tournament and block party. Saturday, the king and queen were crowned and live music began at 2 p.m. Sunday featured a church service and gospel performance.

There were a variety of food and clothing vendors and informational booths. Residents from Fairmont visited the festival to enjoy the atmosphere and share information.

Fairmont residents Amy Smallwood and Chanele Walker from Safelink Wireless were providing free cellphones to qualifying community members through the Affordable Connectivity Program. They attended the Black Heritage Festival to help as many people as possible.

"It feels really good to be able to help. There's ones who really need it and you can tell — the ones who don't have phones at all — those are the ones we try to really go above and beyond for. We try to tell them what the need is and direct them on what they should do," Smallwood said.

Whitney Robinson from the Dunbar School Foundation STOP Program, which serves Marion, Harrison, Taylor and Monongahela counties, provided information to guests who were interested in COVID-19 testing or vaccines. Robinson said they offer mobile services for anyone who can't leave their home or don't have access to transportation. On Oct. 22, Dunbar STOP will host a trunk-or-treat at Windmill Park.

Robinson recently moved back to West Virginia from Georgia and had attended the Black Heritage Festival when she was younger, so it was nice to see how much the festival has grown.

"It just feels good to be home, celebrate our Black heritage and see how much it's grown. It's nice to just be with the community," Robinson said.

The Black Heritage Festival is a great way to reconnect with community members and family, Fairmont resident Bobbi Frazier said. President of the festival's board of directors Jim Griffin is her uncle, so she has been attending the event for years.

"I feel like we need to learn more about our culture and our background. This is the perfect place to come — you come, you just feel welcome, there's always smiling faces, you see friends and family and it's safe," Frazier said.

She works at United Hospital Center and has family members who live in Clarksburg, so driving up for the day was typical for her, but she said she likes visiting for multiple days of the festival.

"I like coming on Saturday because I like hearing the bands. They have different bands — they have gogo bands, blues — they have everything. I like Sunday because of the all day church service. Usually my church will perform on Sunday and my husband plays the drums in the church band," Frazier said.

For information on Black Heritage Festival, the visit their website or Facebook. For more information on the Dunbar School Foundation Stop Program, visit their website or Facebook. For more information on SafeLink Wireless, visit their website.

Reach me at sshriver@timeswv.com or 304-367-2549.