Second annual Bill Withers Festival returns to downtown Beckley over the weekend

BECKLEY, WV (WOAY) – A Slab Fork, West Virginia native and a musical legend, Bill Withers was honored Saturday with a huge festival in his name.

Last year, people came out to the Stratton School neighborhood in Beckley where Withers attended high school to honor him through a road marker dedication ceremony.

This year, the community wanted to do something even more special for the region’s former star. Everyone came out to the Beckley Intermodal Gateway to do just that.

“We really just wanted to pass on the legacy of Bill Withers. A lot of people recognize the songs but don’t really know that the man is a Beckley guy, he was born in Slab Fork but raised in Beckley,” organizer of the festival, Matt Mullins says.

Local musical artists and bands were a major part of Wither’s tribute Saturday. Some of these artists that came out to perform included How Great Thou Art Theater Group, The Carpenter Ants, and Matt Mullins and the Bringdowns. There was also expected to be a special performance by Scott T. Smith.

Honoring the famous musician through music was a crucial highlight of the day.

“The most important thing is that Bill was an honest person in his music and you feel that same pride that we all have as West Virginians in Bill’s music,” says Mullins. “So, like Lean On Me couldn’t have been written by a New York City person, it had to have been written by a person from Southern West Virginia and I think that it really showcases that.”

After being postponed for two years during the pandemic, Sweet Treats desserts and the Emergency Preparedness Fair were some other highlights of Saturday’s event.

The second annual Bill Withers Festival coincides with the City of Beckley’s annual Rhododendron Festival which will continue through May 28. For more information about this festival, you can visit Beckley Events on Facebook or on the city’s website.

Sponsored Content