With the worldwide popularity of the newly released game called Pokémon Go, a lot of children and adults have taken to streets everywhere to play.
For those not too familiar with the game, it is basically an app that is downloaded to an electronic device such as a phone, iPad, or tablet that interacts with a GPS system to help you catch different characters called Pokémon.
The game has designated spots in towns all over the world that are known as “Pokestops” where you can obtain certain items to help you continue to play the game.
The city of Williamson currently has five designated “ Pokestops” and two “gyms” where use their Pokémon to battle against each other. While this version of the Pokémon game is fairly new, Pokémon, however, is not and has been around since the early 1990s.
Since the release of Pokémon go, more people have been out on the streets of Williamson than have been in a very long time.
People from different parts of the county, other counties in Wv and even other states, are traveling to Williamson to play this game.
It is not uncommon to go out at night and see 25 plus people, gathered on the courthouse steps, playing Pokémon.
A lot of small communities that are struggling economically were using this game to help bring attention and business to their area.
This game not only promotes community interaction and physical activity but could help bring business to local stores and restaurants.
A Pokémon event it would be a “win-win” situation for everyone involved.
That led to the idea of what is now called Williamson Poke Fest 2016.
Tonya Webb, event coordinator said, “I thought a festival would be a good way to make it fun for everyone involved including those are not familiar with this new game or maybe does not have a way to play.”
She presented her idea of the festival to Mayor Carlton and to the Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Webb said, “Everyone was so nice and accepting of the idea that it went over well. Everyone on the board basically wanted to do what they could to promote our area while hopefully drawing in potential business. Most of the board members mentioned that they had noticed a lot of people in town playing the game lately but just didn’t really know the specifics about the game or how it worked.”
Williamson Poke Fest 2016 will be held in downtown Williamson on August 20 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
The Mayor has given permission to decorate the town in a Pokémon theme to add a little extra wow factor to the town and to hopefully bring smiles to children and adults of all ages.
All businesses in Williamson are encouraged to get involved.
A group of local artists that are willing to come to go to businesses and draw Pokémon characters with harmless sidewalk chalk or decorate your street.
Some businesses are even decorating their windows in the Pokémon theme and setting out chalk boards advertising their Pokémon themed menus or items they will have for sale.
Local businesses are also encouraged to be open that night and be part of the fun the festival will provide.
Admission to the festival is free and most of the games and activities will be free as well.
The goal in hosting the event is for people to come into town and hopefully spend their money at local stores, restaurants, and to the community members that will be setting up as vendors.
Pokemon Go players will of course have access to play the game but there will also be inflatables for the children to enjoy, a scavenger hunt will be available if you don’t have a phone with the app.
Any child, ages 5 and up, accompanied by an adult can play.
Once they find them, they get to keep them as their reward.
There will also be some extra special ones hidden that may be a little tougher to find but worth it in the end.
There will also be a place where children can use sidewalk chalk to draw their favorite Pokémon characters.
A DJ that will be playing music for all to enjoy and dance if they want to.
Plans are in the works to get a tent set up for those that enjoy playing the Pokémon card game.
A Variety of vendors will be setting up selling everything from Pokémon cards, to candy apples to homemade arts and crafts.
One of the most famous Pokémon, Pikachu, will be making a special appearance in Williamson just to meet and take pictures with anyone that attends the festival so that will be something the children will not want to miss.
The response to the Williamson Poke Fest has truly been amazing and I’m just thankful everyone has been so positive and accepting of it. We truly have some of the greatest and most talented people living in our area (Mingo County, Wv and Pike County, Ky) that I truly feel there isn’t anything we couldn’t accomplish if we all work together.
“I love doing things to help out my community and I’m always trying to think of fun and creative ideas for people to enjoy, especially children, I am involved in several organizations in the County and I do my best to try to help when I can, if the activities that I plan can help boost our economy while bringing smiles to faces of children, then I feel like I’ve accomplished something, to me, it’s about giving back to the community and all of us working together to make Mingo County shine.” Said Tonya.
Applications are still being accepted for vendors and for sponsors for the event, applications will be accepted until August 15.
For more information on the festival or what steps need to be taken to become a vendor, please contact Tonya Webb at 606-625-1628 or on Facebook at Williamson, WV Poke Fest 2016.
Kendra Mahon is a reporter for the Williamson Daily News. She can be reached at kmahon @civitasmedia.com or 304-235-4242 ext 2278