Elkins, W.Va. — The public is invited to the first annual 304 Day celebration of the mountains, forests, people, and arts of West Virginia, scheduled for March 4 (3/04) at 7:00 p.m. at the Brewstel in Elkins. The event is named for West Virginia’s original area code, and the date reflects that iconic number. Activities include live music and poetry readings by local artists, collaborative zine-making, and an open mic. Local illustrator Emily Prentice designed the event t-shirts, and proceeds will benefit the STAY (Stay Together Appalachian Youth) Project.
The celebration is slated for Sunday, March 4 at the Brewstel, 120 Davis Ave, Elkins, W.Va. The event will begin at 7:00 p.m. with a zine party. Music and poetry performances will begin at 7:30 p.m., followed by an open mic. Musical performers scheduled for the event include Heather Hannah, Key to Adam, Emily Miller & Jesse Milnes, Josh Wanstreet, and Wish Awake. Poets include Kevin Chesser, Jen Iskow, Vince Trimboli, and Doug Van Gundy. The event MC will be Kevin Chesser.
Admission is a suggested donation of $5 to support the performers, but all are welcome regardless of ability to pay. The coordinators feel strongly that art should be accessible to everyone. The Brewstel will serve local craft beer, and other refreshments will be available for purchase.
Founded in Elkins in 2018 by Marly Hazen, Brittany Hicks, and Emily Prentice, the purpose of 304 Day is to showcase the diverse way people in our area express themselves, and to honor that artistic impulse. Prentice stated, “There is a broad spectrum of arts cultures in our area, and they go all the way from old-time to punk, from landscapes to street art, from poetry to fanfic to zine-making. All these things can and should co-exist, and we’re hoping to bring them together.”
“We are essentially creating a holiday to celebrate West Virginia and the DIY creatives who make it an amazing place to live. We are starting with one main event this year, but we hope 304 Day will grow into a city-wide and state-wide celebration of the arts, culture, and mountains of our state,” said Hicks.
The motto of 304 Day playfully reflects a spirit of being active and the DIY ethos: “March Forth, West Virginia!” According to Hazen, “Several US communities have grassroots holidays based around their area code, but only West Virginia is fortunate enough to have a date that speaks our message: ‘March Forth!’”
Event attendees will have the opportunity to make a page to contribute to a collaborative 304 Day zine. Drawing and collage materials will be provided. Zines began as an underground artform and an accessible avenue for self-publishing that has experienced a resurgence in creative communities in recent years. Zines represent the organizers’ belief that all people are creative, whether or not they identify themselves as artists. The 304 Day zines will be assembled, photocopied, and sewn together, and contributors can pick up a copy at the Brewstel starting Saturday, March 10.
According to Prentice, “We’re bringing a DIY element into 304 Day because we think it’s important to encourage other people to make things. With the Zine Party, we’re hoping that folks get inspired by the creativity going on around them and want to express themselves as well. We need more diversity, more experimentation, more arts access, and more makers…and 304 Day seemed like a good place to start!”
T-shirts for sale at the event were designed by Emily Prentice and printed locally at Seneca Designs. Proceeds from t-shirt sales benefit STAY (Stay Together Appalachian Youth), “a diverse regional network of young people working together to create, advocate for and participate in safe, sustainable, engaging and inclusive communities throughout Appalachia and beyond.” According to the STAY website, “Central Appalachia faces an exodus of young people due in large part to the lack of economic and educational opportunities…. We envision an economically and environmentally sustainable Central Appalachia where young people have the power to build and participate in diverse, inclusive, and healthy communities…. As young people from Central Appalachia, we are connecting across our region to make our home communities places we can and want to STAY.”
According to Hicks, “STAY’s mission and vision align 100% with our view as 304 Day coordinators. We believe in the future of West Virginia, led by creatives and young people working together to build more inclusive, artistic, and healthy communities. We hope 304 Day demonstrates how much West Virginia has to offer, and that young people and anyone with creative ideas can and should have a voice in shaping our future.”
Mayor Van T. Broughton will recognize 304 Day with an official proclamation in the City Council Chambers at Elkins City Hall. The public is invited to attend the ceremony on Friday, March 2 at 12:30 p.m. at 401 Davis Avenue, Elkins.
Three young Elkinites, Marly Hazen, Brittany Hicks, and Emily Prentice, are organizing 304 Day. Hazen brought the 304 Day idea and motto to Hicks and Prentice so that their artistic expertise could engage other millennial mountaineers to stay connected to their community and to their creative spark. Hazen serves as a City Councillor for the 4th Ward of Elkins and Co-Chair of Generation Randolph. Hicks and Prentice are local creatives and event organizers who collaborate under the name Sassafras Workshop, which provides art and resources by and for DIY makers.