Henderson Hall festival celebrates area’s history

BOAZ, W.Va. — People came out to Henderson Hall Sunday to get a feel of the history of the area.

The historic home, along W.Va. 14 south of Williamstown, was the site of its inaugural Fall Festival.

The festival featured local craftsmen and artisans, antique gas engines, tours of the home and more. There was a corn maze, sack races, a cupcake walk and marbles for the kids.

Randy Modesitt, Henderson Hall director, said the turnout was better than they expected, even with rain throughout the day.

“It has worked out very well,” he said. “We tried to bring in as many different artisans as we could.

“Many of them do crafts that people did many years ago. These are things the Hendersons would have done themselves.”

Modesitt estimates they had several hundred people throughout the day, including many who traveled up the Ohio River on the Valley Gem sternwheeler and let off at a nearby dock and transported to Henderson hall by trolly.

“Even with the type of day it has been with all the rain, we have been very fortunate to have this many people,” he said. “We can’t be anymore pleased with what has happened here today.”

The artisans included a glassblower, blacksmith, woodcarver, quilters, weavers, spinners and others. They were set up at the new Henderson Heritage Village which includes a recently acquired glass-blowing kiln, a blacksmith shop and a woodcarving area. People were able to watch the artisans work as well as interact with them and ask questions.

Modesitt said the new area was just completed Friday and they were still arranging things before the start of the festival.

Many people who came out to the festival were interested to see what was happening at Henderson Hall.

Joan Townsend of Parkersburg saw the event being advertised and thought it would be something good to bring her daughter, Raylee, to.

“We like it,” she said. “It pretty good.

“The blacksmith made her a snail out of metal and let her have it.”

It was her first time at Henderson Hall and said they would come back if another event like this one was held again.

Kim Clovis of Parkersburg came out to see the glassblower.

It was not something people get to see much in this area anymore.

“There are not as many people doing it around here as there use to,” she said. “I wanted to see it again.”

Clovis said she came out to support what was happening at Henderson Hall, despite the rain Sunday.

“I wanted to make sure their first Fall Festival was as well attended as possible and I could help with that,” she said. “In spite of the weather, I could be here. It doesn’t look like they needed me. They had a decent turnout.”

Clovis believes that a annual fall festival at Henderson Hall could be successful.

“I am glad Henderson Hall is taking that step into festivals,” she said.

Rodney Ritchey, who performed bagpipes during the festival and who helped provide other support for the festival, said he wants people to know about Henderson Hall and to check to see what they have available during a weekend when they might have an artisan working and doing demonstrations.

“Every Saturday we will have something here,” he said. “People can come down to see that and explore the grounds.

“My goal is for people to come down and have fun.”

Modesitt said he hopes the people who came out on Sunday now understand where Henderson Hall is and that they have things going on out there.

They are planning to grow the festival next year. They plan to have a barn loom to make rugs on display next year.

“We have a lot of different people involved in a lot of different things out here,” he said. “This is going to be one of those events that will continue to grow.

“This will probably be the smallest it will ever be. I hope that is the case. We are trying to add new things every year.”

Contact Brett Dunlap at bdunlap@newsandsentinel.com