Princeton Prepares for Annual Downtown Countdown

PRINCETON – A colorful tradition continues in downtown Princeton this New Year’s Eve with the Fifth Annual Downtown Countdown-a Winterfest Celebration. The event features five indoor stages of live music and comedy performances, fire dancers, ice sculptors, live art demos, a black light art room, virtual reality gaming, an LED flow zone for hoop instruction, games and more, plus a countdown, ball drop and fireworks at midnight. The 2017 event will debut several new activities such as the Resolution Station and the Start Steppin’ Fun Run/Walk sponsored by Purpose Driven, a 1 mile run at midnight.

Mercer Street will be closed to traffic and family friendly activities will take place in the area surrounding Dick Copeland Town Square. There will be performances in the street, a dance contest, hoop contest, games and creative activities, and DJ Christverd will play the outdoor stage along with MC Doc Atwell of Star 95. Venues that will feature entertainment include The Room Upstairs, a beautiful turn of the century ballroom-turned small theater (part of The RiffRaff Arts Collective), a pop-up venue called “The Hot Chocolate Spot,” The Renaissance Theater (a historic movie theater currently under renovation), and The Turnaround Concert & Gathering Hall, home of Stages Music School. Let Your Art Shine, a paint your own pottery shop, will host an open house and tile painting and The RiffRaff Art Boutique will host guests as well.

There will be an art tent with a craft activity-bellmaking to ring in the new year- and face-painting with artist Heidi Marx. In the black light art room, artists will paint live and anyone is welcome to come watch and also express themselves on the wall. A wish tree, created by artist Isaac Preston out of up cycled copper wire, will offer guests the chance to write their wishes for the new year and hang them on its branches. In addition, there will be corn hole, glow frisbees, ring toss, a dance contest, a hoop contest and a scavenger hunt.

The New Year’s Resolution Station, sponsored by Princeton Health & Fitness Center, will allow guests the opportunity to make their resolution and find information about starting the year with a healthy lifestyle. Blood pressure checks will be offered and professionals will be on hand to answer questions. At midnight, there will be a 1K fun run/walk sponsored by Purpose Driven, a local nonprofit dedicated to promoting the health and wellbeing of our community.

There will be delicious food for sale by IMMA Hungry, who will serve Korean & Texas BBQ, sushi, Louisiana gumbo and more. Black Steel Arms & Coating will be selling their unique and strong coffee, and Spiral Roots Sanctuary will host a tea lounge with various herbal teas and elixirs. There will be free hot chocolate at a few locations. There will be warming stations outdoors, and the majority of activities take place in heated spaces indoors, so this event is rain, snow or shine.

Organizers say this year’s roster of entertainers is remarkable. They include:

Parachute Brigade – Based in Beckley, WV, The Parachute Brigade is a Folk/Americana outfit made up of musicians and artists from various backgrounds coming together to enjoy music and life: Justin Puett, Eric Robbins, Jodie Cox-Puett, Brittany McGuire and Tim Basham.

•Frost Lion Ice-Frost Lion was born out of our love of art and expression, to harness the power of creativity and display the splendor of the “carving arts.” Shannon Gerasimchik, a finalist on this year’s Halloween Wars on Food Network and a Gold Medal ice carver, is the newest edition to the Frost Lion Ice team. He will wow and amaze you as he transforms 2 large blocks of ice into masterpieces!

•The comedy of No Pants Players is created on the fly: never rehearsed; daringly original and spectacularly funny. Prepare to laugh hard – like the kind of laughter that makes you look funny. The kind of laughter that will make you think “I hope someone doesn’t post a picture of me laughing like this on Facebook” laughter. You get the idea. And as for the name? Ever have the dream where you are standing in front of your school ready to give a speech and have no idea what to say and suddenly realize that you’re not wearing any pants? Yeah, that’s pretty much us all the time. West Virginia’s Best Improv Comedy Troupe. Ever.

Black Garlic – This instrumental jam ensemble based in Oak Hill, WV features Stevie Watts and Josh Bibb on guitars, Rob Gross on drums General Jitters on bass and Duncan Mapes on keyboards. Black Garlic features tasteful arrangements of upbeat riffs with an electronic sweetness and a soft rock texture with a pungent funk and deep subtle jazz notes.

Full Circle Flow Arts – This fire dance show is exciting, intriguing and family friendly, bringing a piece of the old world circus with a new world look and feel. Full Circle Flow Arts will be turning up the heat to give you a Fire show you are sure to enjoy, combining solo, duet and group performances that will light up the night!

Brian Zickafoose- A commercial artist, musician and publisher from Summersville, WV, he specializes in “piercing the perimeter of perception, and illuminating the vibrant and divine nature of the human spirit.” His work intertwines elements of nature with geometric patterns and symmetry, illuminating the beauty of life in all its forms. Brian will be painting live to the music in The Room Upstairs.

Adam Cox & Independent State – A West Virginia native who still resides in the ‘Mountain State’, Adam Cox is a singer/songwriter with a rootsy Americana edge. Some may describe his music as ‘New Appalachian’, having been influenced by the wild and wonderful…and beyond. His debut CD entitled “Free and Independent State” features several West Virginia-based musicians who will be featured with him at this event. These original tunes portray glimpses into the many perspectives of Appalachian life, in all its splendor and harsh reality.

Other performers include The Change (all female funk band from Princeton, WV), DJ Christverd, artist Leah Towler and James Hart, a local guitarist who will play Aud Lang Zyne at midnight.

The honorary button pusher who will begin the countdown is Princeton City Mayor David Graham.

Princeton Renaissance Project teams with several area organizations and individuals to make the event possible. Artist Stefani Slaughter-Burchfield designed and created the ball for the inaugural celebration with a group of volunteers from the local group JumpStart and last year, the ball received a makeover to allow for long term sustainability courtesy of New River Community and Technical College and several volunteers. Princeton Fire Department will lower the ball once again and chief Chad Bailey is instrumental in orchestrating logistics. LLyniuM entertainment provides creative organization of the event, sound production and lighting for the stages, and the fireworks are made possible by Ramey Toyota and executed by Pyrotechnica, coordinated by Community Connections. Special thanks to Mercer County Schools and First Christian Church for their cooperation. Doc Atwell of Star-95 is the MC of the outdoor stage. Special thanks to Stages Music School for opening their doors to host activities. Sponsors that make the event possible include Star-95, Princeton Health Care Center, Seaver Funeral Home, Princeton Rescue Squad, Southern Highlands, Community Connections, WV Tobacco Quitline, WV Prescription Drug Quitline, Princeton Health and Fitness Center, Bailey-Kirk Funeral Home, City National Bank, J-104, Kicks Country, Kiss-FM, Wilie (97.3), Fox-59, Princeton-Mercer County Chamber of Commerce, Holiday Inn Express, Turnaround Concert and Gathering Hall, Clover Leaf Properties, Stan Thompson, Richard Goldstein, and RiffRaff Arts Collective. Cooperation from The City of Princeton and the Mercer County CVB are also greatly appreciated.

The event begins at 8:30 p.m. and will continue until about 12:30 a.m.. Tickets are $5 for outdoor activities only, and for All Access passes including all indoor venues, the price is $15 for adults, $10 for senior citizens and students, and veterans and kids 10 & under are free. Tickets may be purchased in advance online at www.downtowncountdown.org, or in person at at The RiffRaff Arts Collective at 869 Mercer Street or the office of Community Connections at 215 S. Walker St. Tickets may also be purchased at the gate.  At 11:30 p.m. the gates will come down and no ticket is required from that point forward. Anyone is welcome to come watch the ball drop and enjoy fireworks. Food and drink will be available for purchase. For more information, visit www.downtowncountdown.org, or call 304-320-8833.

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Tyler Barker
Tyler Barker is currently the News Director and Digital Content Manager for WOAY-TV. He was promoted to this job in Mid-November. He still will fill in on weather from time to time. You can follow Tyler on Facebook and Twitter @wxtylerb. Have any news tips or weather questions? Email him at tbarker@woay.com