After 30+ Bridge Days... Does the Excitement Fade?
Every year, tens of thousands of people from all corners of the world come to Fayetteville to celebrate Bridge Day. Hundreds of folks come together to make this event fun and safe for all involved. Our Community Series highlights people in the community & what they do to support Bridge Day. Each of the people who organize, coordinate and volunteer their time have a passion for West Virginia, Bridge Day and the community of the New River Gorge. These are their stories. Harry Fuller has been to almost every Bridge Day since 1981.
He has been the pastor of Gatewood Baptist Church for 13 years. He was born and raised in Fayette County and has made his home in Fayetteville with his family since 1981. A friendly people person, Harry worked in sales for Plateau Printing for 32 years.
We chatted with Harry to hear his stories of more than 30 years at Bridge Day:
What Bridge Day Means to Harry:
“I always think of the amazing intellect of humans to be able to engineer and build that bridge across the New River Gorge. I have an extra bolt from when they built the Bridge. It was painted gold and given to my Dad, who gave it to me.
“I lived here before the Bridge made travel across the gorge possible. Before the Bridge was built, you had to travel through the gorge. I’ve seen our little town grow, the bridge opened up, the county and businesses. I was in sales for 32 years, and that bridge made it possible for me to visit clients on the other side of the river easily.
“I moved back to Fayetteville in 1981 and Bridge Day is in walking distance from my house. We like it. For 6 hours, Bridge Day is the largest city in West Virginia. My family will come in and visit and it’s wonderful to visit with so many people. I like seeing people who come for Bridge Day, spending time in town. The out-of-towners don’t act like they are visiting, because we treat them like visitors, not tourists.
“I’m amazed how far people will travel to come to Bridge Day. It’s a large community atmosphere. No one’s in a hurry, people will talk to you. The vendors they all have something to share rather than just something to sell. It’s a friendly and open event, and it’s so well organized. There’s a lot going on with security, rappelling, BASE jumping, vendors and all the people.”
What’s Your Role in Bridge Day:
"I have volunteered and played music in the past. Now I’m more of a tour guide for the family and friends who come to visit us. I like to talk to people. Every resident has the opportunity to represent our area. I make it a point to stop at the booths and thank people for volunteering and ask vendors about their products."
Best Bridge Day Memory:
“When they used to have live music. I really loved the music. Folks would stop and listen. It gave local musicians an opportunity to play for a large audience."
“One year, 2 guys from England bungeed with an inflatable elephant. They drank a spot of tea and off they went. That was really fun to see.
“One year, it rained horizontal, but we stayed, and we walked home in the rain.”
Favorite Bridge Day Souvenir:
"After you’ve been going for more than 30 years and you’ve gotten the t-shirts and eaten all the foods, it’s really all about the people. But we’ve always had so much fun. My favorite souvenir is my Father's gold bolt and the certificate that he got when walked across the Bridge at the first Bridge Day. When Bridge Day was new, they gave you a certificate for walking across the Bridge."
Favorite Bridge Day Food:
"I have so many memories of great food. Homemade brownies are my favorite, and I’ll always buy them. I’ve bought really good honey, too. I’ve had good hot dogs there, too, 'cause they know how to put chili and slaw on them. Joy and Cindy's fajitas. I liked their fajitas and miss them."
Favorite Bridge Day Tradition:
"Visiting with our family and friends that come in, and my wife always makes taco soup."
Most Exciting View:
"I used to walk to the landing zone and watch the jumpers down by the river, and I really liked that. Watching the landings is exciting— seeing the action when they land. I’ve also been right by the platform and seen the BASE jumpers do flips as they jump.
"But really I like it all, the excitement of Bridge Day doesn’t die. It’s just like Christmas. Even though you know it’s the same, the excitement never dies, and we look forward to it every year."