- Associated Press - Sunday, July 31, 2016

ELKINS, W.Va. (AP) - With scissors that have been used for decades, a group of local women two weeks ago worked to prepare the velvet for October’s 2016 Mountain State Forest Festival princesses.

A group of local women work together every year to prepare the velvet for the Mountain State Forest Festival Princess gowns. Each year, a special pair of scissors is used in the velvet cutting process.

“Our committee has been using them for approximately 33 years, and they were my grandmother’s scissors before that,” member Rose Harvey said.

Harvey’s grandmother, Mary Preach, was a longtime member of the Queen’s Department who contributed her scissors each year during the cutting process.

“She was a member of the Queen’s Department for a number of years, back when they used to ride the train to New York and hand-pick the velvet,” Harvey said. “She took the scissors every time they cut velvet, and when I got on the committee in the early 1980s, she would loan them to me to take to the festival office until she passed away. And that’s when they came into my possession.”

Together, the Princess Costume Committee has more than 250 years of experience working with the Costume Committee. The women with the group have anywhere from four to 39 years of experience.

Four women on the committee each have more than 30 years of experience.

“The longevity of our committee is due to our love for the Mountain State Forest Festival and the friendship we had before and build on during our years as a committee,” Chairwoman Sue LaMora said.

LaMora explained that during the 1970s, the process of cutting the velvet would take approximately seven hours to cut, pack and ship the velvet for the princess gowns. However, with much experience and effort from the committee, today the process takes somewhere between three and four hours to complete.

“We work hard during the three to four hours but enjoy ourselves,” LaMora said. “We have fun while we are working.”

The committee cut approximately 200 yards of velvet Thursday for the 2016 Mountain State Forest Festival’s 40 princesses. The festival will held Oct. 1 through Oct. 9 in Elkins.

In addition to cutting, packing and shipping the velvet, on the day of Maid Sylvia’s coronation, the Princess Costume Committee continues assisting princesses by steaming gowns, dressing and undressing, and directing the girls to coronation hill.


Information from: The Inter-Mountain, https://www.theintermountain.com

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