West Virginians are always free.

More than a motto in the Mountain State, it’s a way of life.

That special spirit, heritage and culture will soon take center stage in Morgantown.

West Virginia University’s 70th annual Mountaineer Week is expected to attract thousands of people (students, local residents and folks from other parts of the state and country) Oct. 20-29.

Everyone is welcome, and the activities are free, said Mountaineer Week coordinator Sonja Wilson.

“This is the time of year when I really wish there was more than one of me, because I’d like to be at all of these but I just can’t be everywhere at one time,” she said.

The 10-day celebration’s features will include:  Appalachian music (an old-time fiddle contest, square dance, dulcimers), craft fair, quilt show, Civil War encampment, black powder shoot-out, walking ghost tour, model railroad train display, storytelling, expanded children’s activities, pepperoni roll contest and apple butter making.

It’s extra special this year as the school celebrates its 150th anniversary, and that milestone will also be recognized.

Students, faculty and staff will get into the act with the annual PRT Cram Monday beginning at 4 p.m. No birthday would be complete without cake, and free cupcakes will be part of this fun.

Tuesday will feature the “Flowing Outward and Beyond: West Virginia University Exhibit Tour,” 2-4 p.m. at the Wise Library downtown campus.

Highlights include the school’s deed, the original diploma of its first graduate, basketball legend Jerry West’s Mountaineer jersey and first female Mountaineer Natalie Tennant’s buckskin jacket.

Participants will receive a complimentary copy of the WVU sesquicentennial celebration poster.

A downtown campus historical walking tour will follow, beginning at Woodburn Circle, 2-3 p.m.

Appalachian foods will be featured at Friday’s Country Vittles Dinner Buffet, 5-7 p.m.

Menu items include turkey, fried chicken, ham, soup beans and cornbread, macaroni and cheese, green beans and potatoes, mashed potatoes and gravy, cole slaw, tossed salad, deviled eggs and biscuits with apple butter. Desserts will be pumpkin and pecan pie, cherry and apple cobbler.

Price is $13.50 adults, $10 WVU students and $8 children under 12.

Traditional foods and goodies will be available for purchase outside the Mountainlair throughout the event, including kettle corn, pork rinds and funnel cakes.

In honor of National Pumpkin Day, vendors (downtown campus and Evansdale Barnes and Noble, Starbucks Cafe) will feature pumpkin coffee, muffins and cookies on Thursday.

A day-long pumpkin carving party will also be held at the Evansdale campus that same day.

The “Half Ton of Fun” pumpkin display, featuring a pumpkin weighing approximately 1,400 pounds grown by WVU student Dustin Trychta, will be outside the Mountainlair.

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