By RACHEL C. DOVE
WILLIAMSON - With all of the recent media attention centered around the famous Hatfield and McCoy family feud, the City of Williamson is gearing up for what is expected to be the largest crowd in attendance for the Annual Hatfield and McCoy Festival and Marathon, to date.
The festival is scheduled to take place this coming Friday and Saturday, June 8 and 9, beginning with a Hatfield and McCoy Bus Tour that views the sites specific to the feud from 2-5 p.m. on Friday. The tour is narrated by WVU Extension Professor Bill Richardson, Mingo County’s own feud expert, and will leave from the parking area of the Sycamore Inn.
At 6 p.m. in the Belfry High School cafeteria, the Hatfield and McCoy Marathon participants and their families will be partaking of the delicious pasta dinner/race registration that has long been a highly anticipated part of the festival. David Hatfield, President of the Tug Valley Road Runner’s Club and founder of the event will welcome the runners and provide information to them about the race.
During the dinner, the Hatfield and McCoy re-enactment starring local actors Doyle Van Meter and Jerry Akers will be performed. Prizes will be awarded and several speakers are scheduled during the meet and greet dinner, and commemorative marathon t-shirts will be available for purchase.
The “Hatfield and McCoy Film Fest” will begin at 8 p.m. inside the Belfry High Theatre following the conclusion of the dinner.
Genealogy history for those who are interested in their possible connections to the feuding-clans will be offered at the Tug Valley Chamber of Commerce (TVCC) on Friday, housed inside the restored Historical Coal House on 2nd Avenue in Williamson.
Saturday morning at 7 a.m., the 26 mile Hatfield and McCoy Marathon will begin in the parking lot of Food City at Goody, Ky., on U.S. 119.The half marathon will end in the Town of Matewan and runners with the whole marathon will cross the finish line in downtown Williamson. So far, nearly 420 runners have registered for the race and Hatfield is hopeful they will succeed in having over 500 participants this year, a goal he has diligently worked toward.
Music is slated to begin in Williamson at 9 a.m., in the form of live entertainment and by a D.J. Local art will also be displayed starting at this time, and several food vendors will be set up to supply a variety of tasty treats for those in attendance.
The Coal House will be open to the public from 9-6 on Saturday, and Natalie Young, Executive Director of the TVCC, invites everyone to visit them and take time to view the Hatfield and McCoy memorabilia on display including the authentic Court Summons of Devil Anse Hatfield that was purchased by the History Channel’s “American Picker’s” Mike and Frank during their visit to Mingo County. The historical find was sold to Richardson, who was kind enough to display it in the Coal House for everyone to enjoy.
At 11 a.m., a book signing will begin on the lawn of the Mingo County Court House that will feature Author and Publisher, Keith Davis, (Tale of the Devil); Local Author and WDN Sports Editor Kyle Lovern (UFO: Appalachian Case Study); Author Michael Frost (Haunted West Virginia); and author of 6 bestsellers, Lisa Alther, whose hot off the press creation entitled “Blood Feud”, which is about the Hatfield and McCoy feud, will also be in attendance.
The Hatfield and McCoy descendants annual “Tug O’ War” is scheduled to begin at noon in the Town of Matewan.
If genealogy is something that interests you, services to help you begin your ancestry hunt or further your journey with a search you have already started will be available throughout the day at the Righteous Brew Coffee Shop on 2nd Avenue in Williamson. At 2 p.m., the “Kid’s Fun Run” will begin, with sign-up held at the Coal House prior to the start of the race.
From 3-6 p.m., another bus tour of the Hatfield and McCoy sites will take place. The evening’s events will conclude with a “Post Race Marathon Party” beginning at 6 p.m. at the Sycamore Inn on 2nd Avenue. Price for admission will be $10.
To book a Hatfield and McCoy bus tour, you are asked to do so online at www.hmtours.eventbrite.com. To register for the marathon, visit their website at www.hatfieldmccoymarathon.com. To obtain more information on the post-race party or to purchase your tickets, log onto www.postraceparty.eventbrite.com.
You may also contact the TVCC during the hours of 8-5 by calling 304-235-5240.
Young stated that events are still being added to the festival, and said for the most recent updates you may visit the TVCC’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/tugvalley.