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Preserving Heritage through Words: The Wyoming County Writing Contest

Wyoming County, WV, is a treasure trove of history and culture, and what better way to celebrate and preserve it than through the art of writing? The Wyoming County Planning Commission, in collaboration with the Beckley Area Foundation (BAF), proudly announces the Wyoming County Writing Contest for 2024. This initiative, now in its fourth year, aims to encourage and recognize the literary talents of Wyoming County residents while fostering a deeper connection to the rich tapestry of our local history and culture.

The Gift of Literature: Lonnie Bailey’s Legacy

Lonnie Bailey, a prolific author with 22 books to his name, including 21 poetry collections, has been a driving force behind this endeavor. His remarkable literary career spans publications in numerous anthologies, songs on sixteen CDs, and even a play performed by the Mullens Community Theater. To give back to his community, Lonnie Bailey established the Literature Fund for Wyoming County at BAF, ensuring the continuation of the contest and supporting local writers. The awards are a testament to his passion for literature, having received numerous national and international honors, including four inductions into the Poetry Hall of Fame.

Empowering Writers of All Ages

The Wyoming County Writing Contest invites residents from various age groups, from elementary students to adults, to explore the theme of Wyoming County History & Culture. With categories spanning Elementary, Middle School, High School, and Adults (18+), this contest accommodates a diverse range of voices. It’s an opportunity for writers to delve into the heritage of Wyoming County, expressing their perspectives and insights through the written word.

Categories and Prizes Galore

The contest boasts exciting prizes for each category, with monetary awards and medals awaiting the talented winners. From elementary to high school levels, and even for adults, there’s a chance for everyone to shine:

Elementary (1st-5th grade):

1st – $150/medal

2nd – $100/medal

3rd – $50/medal

Middle School (6th-8th grade):

1st – $200/medal

2nd – $150/medal

High School (9th-12th grade):

1st – $200/medal

2nd – $150/medal

Adults (18+):

1st – $500/medal

2nd – $400/medal

These prizes are a testament to the commitment to recognizing and encouraging the literary talent that thrives within Wyoming County.

Guidelines for Crafting Your Story

To ensure fairness and impartial judgment, the contest has established guidelines that must be followed:

  • The author’s name must not appear in the entry.
  • Entries must be titled, typed in standard 12-point font, and double-spaced.
  • A word count of at least 1,000 words is required, with a maximum of 5,000 words.
  • Entries must be the original work of the entrant.
  • All sources should be specifically named.
  • Submitting Your Masterpiece


Submissions can be made to the Planning Commission between January 15, 2024, and May 1, 2024. Entries must be sent to 506A River Road, P.O. Box 1828, Pineville, WV, 24874, or emailed to christylaxton@wyomingcounty.com with “Wyoming County Writing Contest” in the subject line.

Elementary Students’ Creative Prompts

For our youngest contestants, prompts are provided to inspire creativity:

Sunny Summer Day: Share your favorite Wyoming County activities on sunny summer days.

Unique Facts: Research and present three unique facts about Wyoming County.

Pay it Forward: Envision something you’d like to do to make Wyoming County an even better place.

Cityscapes: If a friend visited, what Wyoming County spot would you insist they see and why?

Notable People: Write about a famous person born and raised in Wyoming County.

Preserving Our Stories for Generations to Come

As we embark on this literary journey, let the Wyoming County Writing Contest be a beacon for writers to illuminate the pages with the stories, history, and culture that make our community extraordinary. May these words echo through time, preserving the essence of Wyoming County for generations to come. Start typing, start dreaming, and let your words weave the tapestry of our shared heritage. Good luck, Wyoming County writers!