POINT PLEASANT — Every girl deserves to be the belle of the ball.
Each year, one member of the Community Educational Outreach Service (CEOS) clubs in Mason County is chosen to be that belle at the West Virginia State Folk Festival in Glenville.
On Thursday, this year’s Mason County Belle, Mary Sue Kincaid of Point Pleasant and the Pleasant CEOS Club, spoke about her experience at the festival while at a reception held in her honor.
The reception, held at the Mason County Library, was emceed by Clinedda Austin, president of the CEOS County Council. Austin presented Kincaid with a blue and gold corsage as a gift for representing the Mason County clubs.
Kincaid told those gathered she believed around 44 “Belles” from Mason County had attended the folk festival, which celebrated its 68th year in 2017. This year’s festival also saw the first Belle who was 100 years old – Elda Campbell from Gilmer County.
Kincaid was accompanied to the festival by her sister Alice May Lasseter and she said everyone at the festival treated her and the other Belles like “royalty” from the time they arrived until their departure. Kincaid said her only regret about her time at the festival was that she couldn’t be in two places at once, given all the opportunities to stay busy at the event. She told those at the reception there was always something to do, from taking in the many crafts on display, to listening to musicians and observing the old-fashioned art of storytelling, square dancing and even competing in a spelling bee – she lost on the word “gunnysack” but she got a participation ribbon.
She then talked about being in the festival parade where she was given a parasol to carry and about the banquet where all the Belle’s were introduced to the festival goers.
“It was exciting and humbling to hear those biographies of the Belles,” she said.
She then joked about handing out a cake at the cake walk and that cake (with a photo of the Mansion House on it) being randomly won by a young man from Point Pleasant.
The conversation then turned to the church service held at the Glenville Presbyterian Church which she said hosted a meal for the Belles on antique china that survived a fire in the old building.
“I’m thankful for all of you who sent me,” Kincaid said.
You can only be a Belle once and you have to be 70 or older to participate. Joining Kincaid at the reception were former Belles Darlene Haer, Phyllis Hesson, Helen Lyons and Natalie Morgan.
“I think all of us would go back if we could,” Kincaid said to the former Belles in attendance about their experiences.
Carolyn Litchfield, a member of the Pleasant CEOS Club for over 50 years, said Kincaid’s mother was the first president of the club. Litchfield said she was “proud” of the way Kincaid had carried on the Pleasant Club tradition and represented it at the folk festival.