Inaugural Festival Bridges New River Gorge Past and Present

The New River Gorge Sports and Car Festival (June 21-24), sponsored by the Fayette County Chamber of Commerce, kicks off this year for the first time. The four-day event is a showcase of sporting opportunities in the New River Gorge area and offers fun and competition for all attendees, featuring a two-day golf tournament, a 5k run, a car show, and more.
Although this is the first year for the festival, the event’s roots date back to the 1960’s when the first West Virginia Sports Festival was held. Based out of Oak Hill, the event was the brainchild of several local business men.


The original festival was created by local Fayette County businessmen as a way to honor well known sports celebrities with West Virginia ties, from Sam Snead to Jerry West to Lonnie Warwick, as well as local sports personalities.
“The event,” says C. Adam Toney, who was involved with the original festival for many years, “was a culmination of a bunch of guys having lunch at TV lanes, the old bowling alley at WOAY. The men at that lunch were Bud Hill, a local banker, George Jones, who worked at C&P telephone, Bob Thomas, owner of the TV station, and Jim Lively, organizer of the chamber of commerce and county commissioner.”
As the festival grew, visitors from all over the state traveled to Oak Hill to take in festivities such as golf, tennis and softball tournaments. Additional activities included old timer baseball games featuring players from the old coal camp teams and tobacco spitting contests. The event’s biggest turnout was when the West Virginia University marching band came to Oak Hill. Attendance was estimated to be around 14,000 people.


Like the festival of old, the 2018 New River Gorge Sports and Car Festival will feature golf and bowling tournaments, as well as a 5k run, but this year’s event also includes some events that didn’t exist back in the 1960’s such as disc golf, ropes challenge courses, and mountain biking. Although some of the activities are different this time around, this goal of this year’s festival is the same: to bring people together to celebrate the best of West Virginia.
Registration for most events will include a commemorative NRG Sports and Car Festival T-shirt and free entry with samples to the craft beer festival, to be staged by Destination: Downtown Oak Hill on June 23. Individuals can enter on the day of their respective events, but officials prefer to have registrations at least by Wednesday before the event.
Because this is the first year for this event, the crowds will likely be much more intimate than those from the original events from the twentieth century. It’s the perfect chance to be part of a new tradition in Fayette County and enjoy the best the New River Gorge region has to offer.
Check here for or a full schedule of events.