POINT PLEASANT — It’s not common for someone to literally be the “belle” of the ball, but for some ladies in the Mason County Community Educational Outreach Service Clubs, it happens more than one might think.
This year, April Pyles, a member of the WoHeLo CEOS Club, was selected by her fellow CEOS members to be Mason County’s West Virginia State Folk Festival Belle.
Pyles was welcomed backed by her CEOS sisters this week for a reception, where she spoke about her experience as did CEOS members who had the honor of being chosen as “belle” in previous years.
Pyles spoke about the folk festival which took place in Glenville, explaining this is the 67th year its been held and is the oldest of its kind to celebrate Appalachian heritage. Pyles talked about the mountain music, dancing, storytelling, food, crafts and “good old hospitality,” she experienced.
She also spoke, and wrote about, the tradition of including belles in the festival beginning in 1957, when 10 ladies from surrounding counties stayed in the home of Fern Rollyson, past president of the festival and its longtime supporter. Pyles explained, belles, then and now, have been proud to represent their counties as a way of preserving the traditional pioneer way of life.
Pyles also spoke about attending a belles banquet and lunch at the Gilmer County Senior Center, getting a hand-crafted handkerchief at the Glenville Presbyterian Church, lunch at the Glenville Baptist Church, attending a gospel sing, attending church at Job’s Temple in DeKalb, learning to weave baskets, singing every last verse of “The West Virginia Hills” and of course, walking in the folk festival’s parade. Pyles was accompanied to the festival by Jane Holstein.
At the reception, CEOS President Clinedda Austin presented Pyles with a handmade necklace with cake and refreshments served.
About her experience, Pyles wrote: “During the festival, I was pleased to meet David H. Corcoran, Sr., publisher and senior editor of ‘The Glenville Pathfinder.’ Everywhere the Belles went, Mr. Corcoran was there with his camera and his notebook, ensuring coverage of them in his paper for weeks to come. With each issue, Belles will be reminded of how it felt to be treated like a queen…for a little while.”
Reach Beth Sergent at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @BSergentWrites.