Rhododendron Festival happenings in May 2024:

The Annual Rhododendron Festival is getting ready to kick off during the month of May.  From rhododendron-themed activities to other local spring events, the festival will span a few weeks during the month offering special events, art activities, music, walks and recreational opportunities.

On May 11, the annual Coffee and Tea Celebration is merging with Sweet Treats and the Emergency Preparedness Fair downtown between 11 am and 2 pm. The event includes sampling coffee, tea, desserts, plus local youth performances, and booths at the Emergency Preparedness Fair. The funds raised from sampling tickets sales will benefit United Way and the Bill Withers statue.  Youth groups performing during the event include the Woodrow Wilson High School Choral / Theatre students and Strings of Green at Word Park, and the Beckley Children Theatre Ministry and Seeking Altitude near the Cardinals Plaza.

Sampling tickets are being presold online and at the Youth Museum and will be sold at The Raleigh Playhouse & Theatre on event day. For $5, purchasers receive 5 sample tickets and a voting coin. Larger portions can also be purchased by some of the vendors.

A Candyland themed inflatable is being co-sponsored by the Beckley Water Company, and balloon animals will be made for the kids. Also, meet the festival royalty during the event.

Also, an Appalachian Paranormal Convention will be at the Raleigh Playhouse & Theatre and Sir Walters.

From May 11 – 24, enter the Rhododendron Photo Contest with Active Southern WV. Submit a photo of a rhododendron to the 2024 Rhododendron Festival Photo Contest event page with the hashtag #WVRhodofest24 by noon on May 24 for a chance to win a prize – the winner is selected by the most “likes”. The contest is for amateur photographers only. Please enter only one or two per person to be judged.  Winners will be announced on May 24.

The Raleigh County Library has planned several activities for the festival. A rhododendron-themed Painting with Sarah will be offered on Tuesday, May 14 at 4:00 pm – must pre-register, registration opens May 1.The library’s phone number is 304-255-0511. A children’sFlower Power Slime Time will happen from 12pm until supplies are gone beginning on May 11th. An adult craft activity of making Paper Rhododendrons is planned from 4pm until supplies are gone on May 16th.

On Wednesday, May 15 (or rain date: May 22), a Waterfall Wednesday Walk at the Piney Creek Preserve is planned at 5:30 pm with WV Land Trust. Two waterfalls on this trail are included on the State’s Waterfall Trail. Meet in the parking lot at the end of the old Stanaford Mine Road off Stanaford Road near Brandie’s Mufflers. Please pre-register online at wvlandtrust.org/pineycreek so organizers can plan for the event.

Three events are happening on Saturday, May 18:  The Rhododendron Festival Pickleball tournament will be held at New River Park. Call Dave Barksdale at 304-673-8390 for information or to register.  Also, the annual Founder’s Day at Wildwood House Museum celebration will take place from 11 am – 2 pm. Plus, The Pottery Place will host a watercolor painting activity making flower cards, 11:30 am. Preregistration recommended.

While you can visit Grandview Park anytime during May to see the lovely rhododendron blooms, you can take a guided walk with a National Park Service Ranger on Sunday, May 19. Meet at the Visitors Center at either 2:30 or 3:00 pm to join the tour.

Food, music, and a walk are on the agenda for Thursday, May 23Enjoy music by Shane Ingram in the Beckley Underground from 5:30-7 pm.  The Fruits of Labor Pizzeria & Coffee Shop will be open during the evening for dining.  Also on Thursday, May 23, the monthly Full Moon Walk with Active Southern WV, McManus Trail will meet at the McManus Trail Art Park /3rd Ave parking lot at 7:30 pm to take a 2-mile group walk along the trail.

Another Full Moon Walk with Active Southern WV is planned at Grandview on Friday evening, May 24, at 7:30 pm.

The Rhododendron Festival Car Show and Concert at the Beckley Intermodal Gateway is set for Saturday, May 25 from 4-8 pm. Vehicle registration is from 4-6 pm, $10 (half proceeds to the Bill Withers Statue).  A free concert by the Krista Hughes Band is scheduled from 5:00-7:30 pm.

The festival will end with a new event on Memorial Day called Cars, Coffee, and Cruise with Archies’ Cruisers.Cruise cars will line up in the parking lot beside Word Park, downtown between 10 am and 11 am on May 27. Then at 11 am, a Memorial Day ceremony including the Pledge of Allegiance, patriotic songs, and the history of Memorial Day will happen at the gazebo. At 11:30 am, a cruise will leave Word Park, driving through downtown and along Kanawha Street, ending at the American Legion cemetery. Free tours of the Wildwood Cemetery will be offered by Scott Worley. Wildwood may be open 12-1 pm.

For more festival details, follow Beckley Events on Facebook, visit Beckley.Events community calendar, or call Beckley Events at 304-256-1776.