Sweet Treats, Preparedness Booths, and the Bill Withers Memorial Festival will kick off the Rhododendron Festival on May 14 at the Beckley Intermodal Gateway!


Beckley, WV – Plan to enjoy a sweet, musical day as several events are coming together on Saturday, May 14, at the Beckley Intermodal Gateway Plaza. After a two-year hiatus during the pandemic, Sweet Treats returns along with the Emergency Preparedness Fair, as the events team up with the Bill Withers Memorial Festival. Sweet Treats dessert event kicks off activities from 11 am – 1pm, followed by the Bill Withers Memorial concerts that will go on from noon until 7:30 pm. Everyone is invited to visit the plaza to enjoy a day of free performances and celebrate these events.

Sweet Treats offers an opportunity for local businesses and organizations to promote themselves or their special dessert recipe. 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 Theatre, and Beckley Pride. Some desserts that may be sampled include mini-donuts, chocolate-dipped rice crispy treats, bear claws, mini chocolate chip cannoli, s’mores, funnel cakes, brownies, fruit, donut holes, packaged candy, Oreo balls, cake pops, tea, coffee, lemonade.

Dessert-tasting tickets can be purchased for $5 (includes a strip of five sample tickets that can be used for dessert / drink samples, and a Peoples’ Choice voting coin). Tickets can be purchased pre-event at the Youth Museum or during the event from 11 am – 1 pm, or while supplies last. Ticket proceeds will benefit the United Way of Southern WV and the Bill Withers Memorial statue bronzing. 

                A few vendors plan to sell lunch items throughout the day such as El Mariachi, The Lunch Wagon, Flynn’s hotdogs, Holy O’s, Hilltop Coffee, and Tea Time.  Other booths at the event include the NAACP, Bill Withers Memorial (posters, Rev. Hightower, fundraising for the statue), Groovy 94.1, New River Community and Technical College, Appalachian Screen Printing, Monarch Entertainment, and some of the performers may set up band merchandise booths.

The Emergency Preparedness Fair will include booths representing the Southern WV Preparedness Partnership / Local Emergency Planning Committee, Beckley Sanitary Board, Beckley Fire Department, CERT, Beckley PD, Raleigh County Commission on Aging, American Red Cross and EOC.

The music line-up will begin with youth performers:  Beckley Art Center students at 11:00 am, Mia Bailey at 11:20 am, and Beckley Children Theatre at 11:40 am.  Then at noon, the How Great Thou Art Theatre Group will feature a few Bill Withers tunes and a selection of their musical tributes. Other groups celebrating Bill Withers will include The Carpenter Ants at 1 pm, Lords of Lester at 2 pm, Drew Bailey Lawrence at 2:30 pm, Matt Mullins & the Bringdowns at 3 pm, Scott T. Smith at 4 pm, The Parachute Brigade at 4:45, 3Chill at 5:45; and Aristotle Jones at 6:45 pm.

Also on May 14, the Rhododendron Festival features a Pickleball tournament at New River Park in the morning and rhododendron-themed painting class at the library at noon. The festival continues through May 28. For more event details, visit “Beckley Events” on Facebook, or on the city’s website, or call 304-256-1776. Rhododendron Festival brochures listing schedule are also available.