By Colleen S. Good
Times West Virginian
Saturday, downtown Fairmont saw a full day of music, food, sun and fun at Septemberfest.
Monroe Street was closed to traffic, and more than 30 vendors set up shop from 3 p.m. until nightfall. A movie was also shown at 8:45 p.m. The event was aimed toward students at Fairmont State University and Pierpont Community & Technical College, their families and the community at large.
Local musicians entertained the crowd all day. Food was available until dusk and included pulled pork sandwiches, cotton candy, french fries and deep-fried vegetables from local vendors. Handmade jewelry was for sale. Face painting was available for the kids, and a fire truck was parked at the end of the street, ready for pictures and kid explorers.
The event coincided with Fairmont State’s Family Weekend, and the event was sponsored by Fairmont State’s Alumni Association, but organized with the help of many in the community.
Emily Swain, director of alumni relations and annual giving at Fairmont State, said that the help they received in planning the event was instrumental to its success.
“Main Street Fairmont and the folks from the city have been fantastic,” Swain said. “People just stepped up, and so that inspired other people to step up too.”
Community members from the Thursday 12:30 p.m. Gatherings on Monroe Street were instrumental as well, Swain said. The Gatherings is an initiative started by Main Street in March of this year that brings residents and group representatives together to discuss community issues and ideas.
Swain said that they hope the event will become an annual Fairmont State and Pierpont Family Weekend tradition. The alumni association invited current students and their families, potential students from the surrounding counties and area alumni to participate.
“I think it’s important to recognize how when we are all together and do things as a community, including alumni, students and community members at large, it benefits everyone,” Swain said.
Bo Sellers, director of workforce and community engagement at Pierpont Community & Technical College, said that the event was all about bringing the campus and the community together.
“With Fairmont State and Pierpont, we’re all about the community,” Sellers said. “Whether it be for students, this is their community, and for those of us who work up here, it’s our community too.”
Amie Fazalare, director of admissions and recruitment at FSU, was impressed with the turnout at the event.
“I don’t think we could have asked for anything better,” Fazalare said. “The weather has been great. The football team had a win, and then all of this. It’s really great.”
Fazalare said that the event also served to help freshman students’ parents cut the apron strings.
“You’re always nervous as a parent when your child leaves home,” Fazalare said. “So to see that they are actually living in an area where the campus and the community partner together, I think that helps.”
In addition to many handmade jewelry displays, FSU alumnus Michael A. Ray, of West Fork Pottery, had a selection of pottery pieces for sale, all made locally.
“I make pottery using local clay that I dig myself,” Ray said. “Everything is wood-fired, and made here in Fairmont.”
Ray was recently accepted as a Tamarack juried artist and has had work displayed at Mountain Made Gallery in Thomas. He will soon have pottery at Main Street in Fairmont, and, if that goes well, is hoping to open a store front.
After the vendors packed up shop for the night, a popular new-release movie was shown across the street, with community members and students sitting on lawn chairs and blankets on the green space on Adams Street. The movie was projected onto the Huntington Bank building.
A free shuttle service operated by the Fairmont-Marion County Transit Authority ran all day, bringing students and their families to and from campus and the event.
Email Colleen S. Good at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @CSGoodTWV.