This year marks the 50th anniversary of the West Virginia Recreation Parks Association and Harrison County will play host to all the park directors, superintendents and staff who will attend this year’s convention. Expected turnout will range from 150-200 participants.
Convention participation also includes vendors, speakers and others who deal with the parks departments on a daily basis. Playground manufacturers, maintenance supplies and recreation companies come and present the hottest new products for the upcoming seasons. In order to make these events a success, the WVRPA rely heavily on sponsorships and almost all vendors step up to make it work.
Joe Shuttleworth, Director of Bridgeport Parks and Recreation, has been the point man on this project with help from other departments here in the county including Clarksburg City Parks. With most parks related conventions, a lot of play time is included as well as keeping up with newer ideas involving parks and rec. Shuttleworth has put together a package that will offer the best of both worlds.
Besides the speakers, work sessions and vendor meetings, the conference will offer plenty of recreational activities including golf at Clarksburg Country Club, Pickleball classes, Clip and Climb at the Bridge in Bridgeport and even entertainment from a local music band following the dinner and awards presentation.
Now, a ton has to go into this event and while we technically do not have a convention center like Charleston and some major cities throughout the states, we had to be a little creative in producing a facility that can handle the amount of participants all while keeping things pretty close to housing, food and other points of interest.
The Bridgeport conference center will be the hub for most of the activities involving work sessions and breakouts as well as vendor interaction. Again, other activities will be off property at the Bridge Sports Complex. Hotels at Charles Pointe near the conference center will host those travelling from afar.
Mayor of Bridgeport Andy Lang will be the opening speaker for the event who will later pass the mic to Mark Hornberger who will start off the Wednesday sessions with his presentation – “Let’s Get Squirrely. From there, groups will shuttle to the Bridge Complex to partake in recreational activities mentioned above as well as Archery Tag and later meet with vendors during lunch.
Following lunch, the remainder of the afternoon sessions will stay at the Bridge before we break for the day and prepare for dinner and awards back at the conference center.
With this being the 50th anniversary, vendors normally have gift baskets to auction off to raise money for the WVRPA. Also, one recipient will receive a turn-key installed playground donated by Cunningham Recreation. Value of the prize is over $50,000.
Once all has been wrapped up, local band Josh Folmsbee and the Crooked Roots will perform.
The final day will be a half-day session with educational sessions including team building, grant resources and discussion with the state department of highways. Around noon, there will be an awards luncheon and then dismissal for the day. The RPA board will meet following to discuss future events, vote on board members and old business topics.