Bland County Historical Society

Backward Glance

John Goins



The quarterly membership meeting of the Bland County Historical Society was held on Saturday, December 10, at 1:30 pm at the Bland Library meeting room. Jean Owens, Society president, called the meeting to order and James Sink opened the meeting with prayer. Owens then introduced the guest speaker, John Goins, who is the County Treasurer and also a member of the Bland County Sesquicentennial Committee. 

Goins presented a most informative time-line of the 2011 Sesquicentennial events that were held to celebrate the county’s 150th anniversary. He first gave a brief history of the formation of Bland County, and then provided the background for the formation of the Sesquicentennial Committee that would oversee all events for the year-long celebration. 

The first Sesquicentennial event was a county-wide birthday party in March that was attended by all county school children, as well as the public, and included a tour of the Court House and remarks from county officials, and Senator Phillip Puckett, Delegate Anne B. Crockett-Stark, and representatives from the offices of Senator Mark Warner, Senator Jim Webb, and Congressman Morgan Griffith. 

On April 2, the Confederate Statue in the Court House yard was rededicated to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. A parade, noted speakers, and the playing of “Dixie” were part of the celebration. 

Goins’ time-line continued with the May 7 Sesquicentennial Day in Ceres. This event included breakfast, lunch, yard sales and a flea market, craft show, bake sales, school house and museum tours, and demonstrations that included blacksmithing, quilting, soap making, grain mill grinding, crosscut sawing, and may more activities.  

On Memorial Day weekend, the celebration continued with a parade on Main Street in Bland. Over twenty-five organizations participated in the parade. Afterward an old-fashioned street dance was held on Main Street, in front of the Court House, featuring TrueGrass Band, and the Hollybrook Band. Concessions were provided, and seating was available in the Court House lawn. 

The Green Valley Methodist Church shelter was the site of the next Sesquicentennial celebration. People were encouraged to celebrate the county’s birthday by sharing the histories of their community through stories and photos of the past and present. Refreshments were provided. 

On July 4, county birthday activities continued at the Bastion Union Church Park at their annual Fourth of July celebration which included free food, gospel music, worship service, and fireworks. Also in July the Ceres Ruritan Club featured a Sesquicentennial celebration at their annual Car Show held on the fairgrounds in Bland. And, the Bland County Fair, held in July, had special $150 cash drawings each night in honor of Bland County’s 150th birthday. 

Another street dance was held in August, featuring local bands, Shades of Gray and the Hollybrook Band. This was followed by the last street dance on September 17, featuring the same bands.  

The Bland County Festival of Leaves, in October, featured a one-act play, entitled “Bland County Dreams”, that was written and produced by county native, Randy Newberry, and featured mostly local actors and was viewed by a standing-room-only crowd. This play was presented the following evening at the Wolhfahrt Haus Dinner Theatre, again to a standing-room-only crowd. Another attraction at the Festival was Virginia’s Civil War 150 Historymobile.

Goins stated that the final event of the Sesquicentennial was held on October 29, with the burying of the Bland County Time Capsule in front of the Confederate Statue in the Court House yard. This capsule contains items from all over the county and will be opened when Bland County celebrates its 200th birthday in 2061.

Goins answered questions from the members, and then presented the Historical Society a scrapbook of Sesquicentennial events, some photos, and one of the celebration t-shirts. Refreshments were served after a short business meeting. Anyone wishing to become a member of the Historical Society may call the office at (276) 688-0088 at any time.