BUCKHANNON — One thing that is really unfortunate about this year is the cancelation of the traditions. From festivals and 4-H camps, to parades and parties, 2020 seemed to vacuum up all of the celebration.
As I am not familiar with many Buckhannon traditions, I was told that every year, photos of local veterans are displayed at Jawbone Park and there is a small Veterans Program at Heavner Cemetery. Luckily, both of these will still continue as scheduled, even amid the coronavirus pandemic. I also understand that with Memorial Day being so close to the Strawberry Festival, often there isn’t adequate observance for Memorial Day. I have noticed that the cancellation of Strawberry Festival has put a damper on a lot of spirit Buckhannon has had in previous years. I was looking forward to experiencing my first Strawberry Festival this year.
Where I am from, Memorial Day Weekend is a bigger deal than most other places. While most places hold a single parade to celebrate the day, St. Marys draws out the celebration by also celebrating our high school’s Alumni Weekend. Throughout the weekend, honor classes in five-year increments, gather for class reunions. On that Saturday, the alumni parade proceeds through Main Street, celebrating the honor classes and the Alumnus of the Year, followed by a town picnic. Saturday evening is our latest tradition for adult fellowship, Evening on Main. It features food vendors, beverages and music. Tables are also reserved for honor classes. Sunday evening, the high school puts on a graduation ceremony and holds an all-night lock-in for the seniors to spend one last hurrah together before going their separate ways. Lastly, the next morning holds another parade for Memorial Day and ends at the cemetery to honor and mourn the military personnel who have passed while serving in the United States Armed Forces. Unfortunately, due to the virus this year, we cannot continue the tradition, and my hometown seems lost without it.
The 4-H program has also had to cancel some major traditions by holding virtual camps instead. Back in 2015 at the Older Members Conference, I remember someone explaining that camps had been held every year since the start in 1915. Even when state camps were cancelled for World War II, county camps still continued. Now that WVU Extension cancelled all overnight camps through May and June, things will not be the same. I hate to think about all the campers who were excited to spend a week, or more, with their friends, or the Extension Camping Instructors out of a summer job, or the 21-year-olds who lost their age out year. Having at least one week dedicated to friends, fun and 4-H is what I looked forward to all year.
Even though we might lose these traditions in 2020, I hope that only makes the 2021 summer that much better. One thing we must stay focused on throughout all of the disruptions from this pandemic is that it is temporary, only a fraction of our lives. We must continue to stay safe and look forward to a time when our lives continue as we once knew them.