JULIA ROBERTS GOAD
MATEWAN - The McCoy clan claimed victory in the Tug Over the Tug, an annual event held in Matewan during the Hatfield McCoy Festival.
The tug-over-war is the battle of the Hatfields and McCoys, with the Hattields on the West Virginia side of Tug River and the McCoys on the Kentucky side.
Each team has ten members, and with a “go!” from Matewan Mayor Shelia Kessler, the contestants tugged, in a manner befitting an Olympian event.
The battle lasted less than five minutes, with the McCoys in Kentucky claiming victory in the battle.
Mayor Kessler is a direct decendant of Devil Anse Hatfield. Her mother’s uncle was Sampy Hatfield, Devil Anse’s brother. She rooted for the Hatfield clan on the banks of the river.
“Im disappointed we lost,” Kessler said. “But, in our defense, the terrain here on the West Virginia side is rough, the people tugging were standing on rocks. The McCoys over in Kentucky had a much better place to stand.”
She said the Hatfield team had two females, which they had not had before, and that may have handicapped the Hatfield clan’s efforts.
“The McCoys said they had two females, but we couldn’t really tell from over here,” Kessler said with a smile.
Among the other activities in Matewan Saturday was a recrecation of a shotgun wedding. However, the narrative of the classic scenario of an impending birth and a reluctant bridergroom was changed.
Instead, the story was that the bride was seen leaving a barn in the wee hours with a man, and her father insisted she marry to defend her honor.
Kessler said she was pleased with the festival in Matewan, and looks forward to next year’s event.
“Monday we are going to start planning for next year,” she said. “We want to work more closely with the Tug Valley Chamber of Commerce and the Tug Valley Road Runners club.“
Kessler said the town wants to capitalize on the recent media interest in the area.
“With the renewed interest in the Hatfield McCoy fued brought about by the miniseries, we will work harder,” she said. “We want the two towns, Williamson and Matewan, to work more together. There is more than enough to go around.”