Eric Douglas Published

WV Day Celebrations Kick Off At Culture Center

School children on state with two seated people and a man at a podium.
The students from the state Ambassador Camp sung The West Virginia Hills as part of the 160th state birthday celebration.
Eric Douglas/WVPB

West Virginia became a state 160 years ago on June 20, 1863 in the midst of the Civil War. West Virginians participate in activities around the state to commemorate the day.

Gov. Jim Justice and First Lady Cathy Justice kicked off the celebration at the West Virginia Culture Center along with Arts, Culture and History Curator Randall Reid-Smith and other dignitaries. The celebration included a performance of one of West Virginia’s four state song “The West Virginia Hills” as sung by the students participating in the Ambassadors Camp.

Gov. Justice read a quote from President John F. Kennedy from when he visited the state for the 100th anniversary in 1963. He read: “It (West Virginia) has known sunshine and rain in 100 years, but I know of no state—and I know this state well—whose people feel more strongly, who have a greater sense of pride in themselves, their state and their country, than the people of West Virginia.”

Cathy Justice was honored for her work with education in the state by being made an honorary knight of the Golden Horseshoe.

Cathy Justice also announced the winner of the West Virginia Birthday Punch Contest. The contest invited West Virginians to submit an original (non-alcoholic) punch recipe, with the winning recipe being served at the celebration.

The official birthday cake of West Virginia, “Ms. Van’s Blackberry Skillet Cake” by Kim Wymer of Scott Depot which was awarded at last year’s birthday celebration was served at the reception. 

The day also featured a Golden Horseshoe Reunion, open to all former recipients of the Golden Horseshoe Award in recognition of their knowledge of West Virginia history.