The October Sky Rocket Boys Festival will be in Beckley again this year. It is a celebration about the Rocket Boys, a group of amateur rocketers from Coalwood in McDowell County who won a National Science Fair gold mine and several of them went onto work with various science fields. Their story was record in the memoir of Homer Hickman and in the movie October Sky.
Special guests for the festival are several of the original Rocket Boys, Chris Owen one of the stars of October Sky, Russell L. Werneth from NASA, and Andy Jackson festival photographer.
Events get started with WV Speaks UP, a “Conference of Ideas,” on October 2 and 3 at the Tamarack. Forty eight of West Virginia’s most motivated and enlightened mind will be Beckley to give a seven minutes presentation on their idea to better the state. The first session is from 6pm-8pm on Wednesday and the three more on Thursday. Other events on Thursday are the Teacher of the Year Award ceremony at 6pm-7pm and the Spirit of the Coalfields Awards.
The main events for the festival start on Friday: screenings of October Sky with one the Rocket Boys starts and a writing workshop with Homer Hickam at the Tamarrack. Chris Owen will do an acting workshop and October Sky screening at the Raleigh Playhouse and Theater for $10 starting at 6pm. A Friday night concert starts at 7:30pm at the Woodrow Wilson Auditorium. Tickets available online.
Then on Saturday even more stuff goes down. The festival takes place mostly at the Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine (BECM) and New River Park (NRP) but some events are around at other places. There will be educational displays, food, crafts, a “writer’s row”, specialty vendors, a 5K run, The Buddy Walk, planetarium, blood drive, BECM tours, the Second Annual WV State Championship of Paper Airplane Flight, a rocket launch, live music, fire hydrant painting contest, a Hot Dog Eating Contest, live round song contest, and WV Dance company performing. Then at night, Chili night in Uptown Beckley with the Rocket Boys as guest judges starts.
On Sunday a motor coach departs for Coaldwood at 9am from Tamarrack and returns at 4pm. Tickets are $30 for adults and $15 for students.