The West Virginia Division of Culture and History will celebrate West Virginia Day with activities at the Culture Center in Charleston on Monday, June 20. The Culture Center opens at 9 a.m., and all events are free and open to the public.
Festivities will begin at 10 a.m. with the introduction of a limited edition commemorative Blenko vase by Commissioner Randall Reid-Smith and Blenko president Walter Blenko. Only 153 hand-blown cobalt blue and gold topaz vases were produced in keeping with the state’s 153rd birthday.
First Lady Joanne Jaeger Tomblin commissioned designer Aaron Harvey to create a special edition Blenko azure to crystal fade commemorative pitcher for West Virginia’s birthday. One hundred pitchers, complete with the First Lady’s signature, were made.
The pitchers will be available for $63, and the vases, also designed by Harvey and hand-blown by artisans at Blenko Glass in Milton, Cabell County, will be sold for $54. Walter Blenko will sign the vases from 10 a.m.-12:15 p.m. at no additional charge.
From 10 a.m.-3 p.m., there will be youth programs in the Education Room and on the Culture Center Plaza, including hands-on craft activities and weaving. Re-enactor Wes Armstead will speak about the civil rights sit-ins at Scott’s Drug Store in the State Museum.
A Blenko Glass exhibit featuring the company’s glassware from circa 1950 to 2016 will be on display in the Great Hall. In addition, the Sesquicentennial Artists Invitational exhibit, featuring 30 pieces created by artists across the state to celebrate the Mountain State’s 150th birthday in 2013, will be showcased in the Commissioner’s Gallery. Jazz musician Steve Himes of Charleston will perform in the Great Hall from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. At 12:15 p.m., the state’s birthday cake will be served.
At 1 p.m., West Virginia native Cat Pleska will read an excerpt from her book Riding on Comets: A Memoir. She also will discuss her writing process and how she chooses topics for her books. Pleska is a recipient of the Governor’s Arts Award for her support of the arts, a radio essayist and storyteller. Following her talk, she will sign copies of her book, which will be available for purchase.
For more information about West Virginia Day activities at the Culture Center, contact Caryn Gresham, deputy commissioner for the division, at 304-558-0220.