Coal may be black and sooty, but to Greene County residents it’s been as good as gold.
Coal has long been a valued resource for the area, benefiting its miners, their families and numerous communities through its tremendous boost to local economies. This weekend, coal will be celebrated once more during the weeklong 66th Annual Pennsylvania Bituminous Coal Show in Carmichaels.
Running from August 17 through 24 at the Carmichaels and Cumberland Township Volunteer Fire Company, 420 W. George Street, the show will celebrate coal with a wide array of activities, contests, live music, exhibits, food, rides and more.
This year’s theme, “Coal: A Vital Resource,” is, in the words of publicity director Michelle Frye, “not only to show that coal has been an important material that’s powered the world for so many years, but also to show that it’s a vital part of our culture.”
This year’s festivities kick off on August 17 with races at the fire hall. The Kids Fun Run will begin at 8 a.m. and the fourth annual King Coal 5K Race at 8:30 a.m. (registration begins at 7:45 a.m.)
The 28th annual King Coal/Sara Ruth Memorial Golf Outing at the Carmichaels Golf Club officially opens the show at 9 a.m.
On Sunday, the reign of 2018 Coal Queen Holly Lesko will come to an end, and the reign of a new queen will begin at the 66th Annual Coal Queen Pageant at the Carmichaels Area High School Auditorium. Admission and program booklets are $10 each. The doors open at 6:30 p.m. with the pageant starting at 7.
No events are scheduled for Monday, but the festivities resume on Tuesday, August 20 at 8 a.m. with the PA State Mine Rescue Contests and Mine Rescue Competition at the Greene County Fairgrounds in Waynesburg. Admission is free.
From 6 to 10 p.m., the Baby Prince and Princess Contest will take place at the Carmichaels fire hall grounds. Winners will receive a crown and banner, plus be featured in the King Coal parade Saturday.
New this year and for one evening only, the fire hall will feature a craft and vendor show at 6 p.m.
“The craft and vendor show will include knitting, quilting, jewelry, kitchen items, home made goods and familiar brand items,” Frye said. “On other days, we’ll feature nonprofits and information booths.”
For the past three decades, Brice Rush, a retired miner, has exhibited part of his coal memorabilia collection, taking the trouble to vary the artifacts on display every year. On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, Rush will display his collection and answer questions at the fire hall. On Saturday, he’ll be part of the Eastern Mining Collection Show.
Each evening, beginning on Tuesday, Thomas Family Amusements and DJ Dave Plavi are featured at the Carmichaels fire hall grounds.
Continuing at 8 a.m. on Wednesday, August 23, the PA State Mine Rescue Contests and Mine Rescue Competition will conclude at the Greene County Fairgrounds in Waynesburg. Admission is free. That evening, the 53rd Annual Children’s Pet Parade will assemble at 5:30 p.m. in the Yoskovich Funeral Home parking lot in Carmichaels, then proceed to the town square for judging and prizes.
“I’ve been going to the coal show ever since I was a kid, and the pet parade is my favorite event,” Frye said. “People from Fairmont (W.Va.) to Pittsburgh enter their cats and dogs in the parade, but in the past, we’ve also had chickens, goats, alpacas, even a dragon lizard march along with them.”
Starting on Wednesday and continuing each evening from 6 to 10 p.m., exhibits, entertainment and a Baby Contest will be featured on the Carmichaels fir hall grounds.
Thursday will feature exhibits and contests, as well as the 48th Annual Bill Gideon Memorial Decorated Bicycle Parade at 6 p.m. Participants will line up at 5:30 p.m. at the Yoskovich Funeral Home parking lot, then proceed to town square for judging and prizes. The parade is open to all ages, but no gas operated vehicles are allowed.
August 23 will spotlight a free, live music performance at the Carmichaels fire hall grounds from 7 to 10 p.m., and the winners of the King Coal Prince and Princess Pageants will be announced at 8.
Saturday, August 24 will be packed with activities starting at 9 a.m. and continuing to 2 p.m. with the Eastern Mining Collection Show at the fire hall. Admission is $2.
Registration ($10) for the King Coal Charles Workman Memorial Auto/Motorcycle Show is from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Wana B Park.
Registration for the Issac N. Lewis Memorial Tractor Show at Michael’s Auto Sales Inc. will be from 12:30 to 3 p.m. Also during that time, the 66th Annual King Coal Charles Workman Memorial Auto and Motorcycle Show will be at Wana B Park with free admission.
At 3:50 p.m., the 66th Annual K.C. Charles Workman Memorial Auto/Motorcycle Parade will begin, followed by the 66th Annual King Coal Parade at 4 p.m.
From 7 to 10 p.m., a free music performance by the Shadow Cats, which plays a blend of Rock and Roll, Soul, Blues and R&B, will be at the Carmichaels fire hall.
According to Rush, second vice president of the King Coal Association, the idea for the annual coal show came about when Stanley Allison visited a similar show in Bluefield, West Virginia, in 1953 and thought it would be a good fit for Carmichaels. At the time, hundreds of local miners had lost their jobs to machines.
Wanting to do something for the community, four Carmichaels residents – Paul Smith, Ross Allison, Stanley Allison and Ellis (Parker) Burnette – met at a coffee shop to discuss the idea.
In May 1954, they organized the King Coal Association, along with the Nemacolin, Carmichaels and Crucible Volunteer Fire Departments and Carmichaels Chamber of Commerce, to foster the development and advancement of the bituminous coal industry.
The first King Coal Show in 1954 included a football game, titled the “Coal Bowl” that pitted Jefferson-Morgan against Carmichaels, a carnival and a beauty pageant.
“The event drew thousands,” Rush said.
For more information on the 66th Annual Pennsylvania Bituminous Coal Show, visit kingcoalshow.com.