Rhododendron Festival takes off Saturday at Intermodal Gateway | State and region

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After a two-year hiatus during the pandemic, Sweet Treats returns with the Emergency Preparedness Show as events team up with the Bill Withers Memorial Festival.

The Sweet Treats Dessert Event, which gives local businesses and organizations the opportunity to promote themselves or their special dessert recipe, runs from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., followed by the Bill Withers Memorial Concerts which will run from noon to 7:30 p.m.

Dessert participants include United Way of SWV, The Dish, Holy O’s, Donut Connection, Beckley Woman’s Club, Tea Time, Raleigh County Community Action, Raleigh County 4-H, McDonalds, Hilltop Coffee, Greater Beckley Christian School, The Lunch Wagon , Beckley Children’s Theater and Beckley Pride. Some desserts that can be enjoyed include mini donuts, crispy chocolate dipped rice treats, bear claws, mini chocolate chip cannoli, s’mores, funnel cakes, brownies, fruit , donuts, wrapped candies, Oreo balls, cakes, tea, coffee and lemonade.

Dessert tasting tickets can be purchased for $5, which include a strip of five sample tickets that can be used for dessert or drink samples, and a Peoples’ Choice voting coin. Tickets can be purchased before the event at the Youth Museum or during the event. Proceeds from the tickets will benefit the United Way of Southern West Virginia and the Bill Withers Memorial Statue Tanning.

A few vendors plan to sell lunch items throughout the day, such as El Mariachi, The Lunch Wagon, Flynn’s Hot Dogs, Holy O’s, Hilltop Coffee, and Tea Time.

Other booths at the event include the NAACP, Bill Withers Memorial (posters, Rev. Hightower, statue fundraiser), Groovy 94.1, New River Community and Technical College, Appalachian Screen Printing and Monarch Entertainment.

The Emergency Preparedness Show will include booths representing the Southern West Virginia Preparedness Partnership and Local Emergency Planning Committee, Beckley Health Board, Beckley Fire Department, CERT, Beckley’s PD, Raleigh County Commission on Aging, American Red Cross and EOC.

The musical lineup will begin with young artists: the students of the Beckley Art Center at 11 a.m., Mia Bailey at 11:20 a.m. and the Beckley Children Theater at 11:40 a.m.

Then at noon, the How Great Thou Art Theater Group will present some arias by Bill Withers and a selection of their musical tributes.

Other bands celebrating Bill Withers will include The Carpenter Ants at 1 p.m., Lords of Lester at 2 p.m., Drew Bailey Lawrence at 2:30 p.m., Matt Mullins & the Bringdowns at 3 p.m., Scott T. Smith at 4 p.m., The Parachute Brigade at 4:45 p.m., 3Chill at 5:45 p.m. and Aristotle Jones at 6:45 p.m.

Also on May 14, the Rhododendron Festival features a Pickleball tournament in New River Park in the morning and a rhododendron-themed painting class at the library at noon. The festival continues until May 28.

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