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150th Birthday Costs
W.Va. Spending About $330,000 To Fund Sesquicentennial
June 19, 2013

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It's not every day you celebrate 150 years of something, so the state is gearing up for a big sesquicentennial birthday bash.

The Capitol grounds are being transformed into party central, with events designed to entertain and educate while marking the state's birth on June 20, 1863.

However, while mountaineers are always free, the festival is not. More than $300,000 has been earmarked for the anniversary. However, that's much less than the bills taxpayers took care of in 1963 for the for the state's 100th birthday party.

So, the price tag for this 150th birthday shindig to you is $133,000. That's for the four-day celebration here on the Capitol grounds. Add in another couple hundred thousand for events all across West Virginia and you come up with $333,000. That's a significant chunk of change but you have to put it into perspective. 50 years ago during the state's centennial celebration, West Virginia spent a million dollars. Translate that into 2013 money and the total is $7.6 million. So by comparison, the sesquicentennial is a relative bargain.

How in the world are we paying less today than we did a half century ago? The answer: private donations from dozens of corporate sponsors.

"We've budgeted very well for it," Chelsea Ruby, Chairman of the W.Va. Sesquicentennial Commission, said. "We've tried to be fiscally responsible and we have had companies all over the state come out of the woodwork saying we want to support this. We want to be part of the celebration and we want to do what we can to get involved."

Private sponsors have kicked in nearly $400,000 for the celebration. Governor Earl Ray Tomblin says taking time to mark the state's landmark birthday is money well spent.

"I think it's time that we should celebrate our state," Tomblin said. "We've got a lot of good things, a lot of great history here and a lot of great people. I think this is an opportunity, it's a milestone for West Virginia to have their 150th birthday that we not only need to look back but we need to look forward to the next 50 years."

Ruby said the state's centennial celebration in 1963 is still fondly remembered. She wants the same for this party.

"Our goal all along here has been to do that again," Ruby said. "To make a set of events to make people proud to be from West Virginia and something that they'll be talking about 50 years from now."




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