Whether under a shade tree or in a state-of-the-art building, one Logan County group offers a night of entertainment for people of all ages, and nestled in Chief Logan State Park is a group of people who just want to have a good time.
Pickin’ in the Park started out like any other get-together in West Virginia — out of love for pure entertainment and the outdoors. But this love for community and family grew roots when a grant helped the concert venue expand from under a tree to under a re-purposed roof with an exceptional sound system.
The stage has brought in names from across the musical spectrum: country, gospel, bluegrass, southern rock, classic rock and many other genres. Pickin’ in the Park boasts performances from Chase Likens, semi-finalist on American Idol; Cody Wickline, semi-finalist on The Voice; YouTube sensation Kayla Slone; and Landau Eugene Murphy Jr., America’s Got Talent winner and Logan County native.
Open every Friday and Saturday night, there’s no admission fee and none of the talent gets paid to play.
“It works out well,” said Ray Perry, who is in charge of the operation. “We’ve had some pretty good talent over the years.”
Bands including One Horse Town, Weekend Grass, Mystery Mountain Boys and Blackberry Jam have also graced the park’s stage.
After securing a Community Participation Grant, Perry said the sound system is probably second only to the Grand Ole Opry.
“It’s a little bit gratifying; I don’t like to take credit for it,” Perry said. “I tell people I just open the doors and mop the floors.”
Interested in music from a young age, Perry said community interest was always present, but the event has gained momentum ever since the opportunity to have a venue like Pickin’ in the Park was presented in 2001.
Perry said with help from legislative leaders such as Sen. Art Kirkendoll, D-Logan, who was Logan County Commission president at the time the venue opened, it continues to grow with a new building and new equipment.
“It’s the only park in West Virginia that has live entertainment year-round,” Perry said of Chief Logan State Park. “It’s just a melting pot; it’s hard to describe.”
Perry isn’t just the janitor and sound guy, he also creates his own music in the Coal Fired Band. With Perry on guitar and vocals, Pat Hutchinson on guitar and vocals, Jeff Lane on keys and vocals, Slade Sowers on bass and vocals and Ken Scaggs on percussion, the band plays reunions, rallies, charitable events, concerts and parties. Take a trip to the park and they might even be the entertainment there.
Other bands travel from all over the Appalachian region to perform.
Pickin’ in the Park is home to the annual Aunt Jennie Wilson Festival every year on the last weekend of August. The festival celebrates the life, spirit and music of Virginia Myrtle Ellis “Aunt Jennie” Wilson, a 1982 Vandalia Award winning banjo player, considered a master of the “clawhammer” style of banjo playing.
The park considers its house band to be Sang Creek, a name that’s easy to remember because it’s also where the venue is located at 435 Sang Creek Road in Logan County.
Anyone interested in more information or in performing at the park can search for Pickin’ in the Park on Facebook, call 304-687-3160 or email [email protected] to schedule a performance.
With open mic nights one night a month that start in May, single performers, duos and trios without bands will be invited to sing with the house band. The events are free and no alcohol is permitted in the park or at the concerts.
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