Best Charity

YWCA CHARLESTON

It’s almost hard to believe one organization does so much good. YWCA Charleston provides permanent housing for elder abuse victims and homeless disabled women and operates a round-the-clock shelter, crisis hotline, and emergency intervention service for domestic violence victims. There’s a year-round child development center serving children of all ages, transitional housing for women and children overcoming domestic abuse and homelessness, and a 75-bed shelter for homeless single women, women with children, men with custody of their children, and intact families. And we haven’t even mentioned the fitness center in downtown Charleston and the organization’s efforts to fight racism., ywcacharleston.org, @ywcacharleston on Facebook


Best Addiction Recovery Resource

LILY’S PLACE

Rhonda Edmunds and Sara Murray opened Lily’s Place after seeing the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Cabell-Huntington Hospital fill up with babies affected by their mothers’ opioid abuse. Each baby receives a private room in this 12-bed recovery center, where nurses closely monitor babies as they are weaned off the drugs in their systems and provide the specialized care these little patients require. Their work has attracted the attention of members of Congress, First Lady Melania Trump, and news outlets ranging from Reuters to NBC’s Today Show. 304.523,5459, lilysplace.org, @lilysplacewv on Facebook


Best Museum

CLAY CENTER FOR THE ARTS & SCIENCES OF WEST VIRGINIA

Buy a ticket to the Clay Center and you get two museums in one. The 9,000-square-foot Juliet Museum of Art boasts an impressive collection of modern art with regularly rotating exhibits from artists nationwide. Downstairs, there’s the newly renovated Avampato Discovery Museum. Kids will love “My Town,” a pint-sized, interactive community where they can put on shows in the theater, ring up groceries or go shopping at the supermarket, work on cars in a garage, tend to sick animals in the veterinary clinic, and more. 1 Clay Square Charleston, 304.561.3570, theclaycenter.org, @claycenter on Facebook


Best Music Venue

CLAY CENTER FOR THE ARTS & SCIENCES OF WEST VIRGINIA

The epicenter of culture in Charleston, this multimillion-dollar facility opened its doors in 2002. The Clay Center’s main venue, the Maier Performance Hall, has played host to everyone from Aretha Franklin to James Taylor, John Legend to Charlie Daniels. The hall is also home of the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra, now under the direction of maestro Lawrence Loh. Around back, you’ll find the black box-style Walker Theater, a more intimate space that frequently hosts local up-and-coming artists as part of the Clay Center’s Sound Check series. 1 Clay Square, Charleston 304.561.3570, theclaycenter.org, @claycenter on Facebook

Runners-Up

THE PURPLE FIDDLE
This family-friendly venue draws top-notch touring bands from around the country. 96 State Hwy 32, Thomas, 304.463.4040, purplefiddle.com, @thepurplefiddle on Facebook

CARNEGIE HALL
No, not that one. This Carnegie Hall hosts music and theater performances, an independent film series, fine art exhibits, and classes and workshops. 611 Church Street, Lewisburg 304.645.7917, carnegiehallwv.com, @carnegiewv on Facebook


Best Festival

BRIDGE DAY

Three years after West Virginia completed the New River Gorge Bridge—then the world’s longest steel single-span arch bridge—the state invited people to jump off of it. Now, each October, BASE jumpers come from all over for Bridge Day. Daredevils also rappel from the bridge into the valley below. It all provides a great show for the thousands of eager spectators who crowd onto the bridge to watch these extreme athletes in action. officialbridgeday.com


Best WV History Museum

THE WEST VIRGINIA STATE MUSEUM

The West Virginia State Museum, housed in The Culture Center at the State Capitol Complex, allows visitors to follow a literal path through the ecology, history, and culture of the Mountain State. It begins in a prehistoric forest, with cases of rocks and fossils from the days before mankind roamed the earth, which leads into an exhibit about prehistoric people and Native Americans who lived in West Virginia.

Next come the days of early western settlement and frontier life. Exhibits include a telescope used by a young surveyor named George Washington and an authentic settler’s cabin that was dismantled and reassembled in the museum. Then it’s on to a series of rooms dealing with West Virginia’s Civil War history. You’ll learn about everything from John Brown’s infamous raid at Harpers Ferry to the political wheelings and dealings that led to West Virginia’s statehood.

From there, you’ll find exhibits on Wheeling, West Virginia’s first capital and economic center, life on the family farm, the changing roles of women in the state, and the railroad. Explore a library from 1880s Clarksburg and a soda shop originally located in Charleston’s Scott Brothers Drug Store. Along the way there are “discovery” and “connections” rooms that allow visitors to dive deeper into subjects that pique their interest.

The museum is free and open Tuesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. 1900 Kanawha Boulevard East, Charleston, 304.558.0220, wvculture.org, @wvsme on Facebook


Best Environmental Organization

WEST VIRGINIA NATURE CONSERVANCY

The Nature Conservancy seeks to preserve our most precious natural treasures by maintaining healthy ecosystems where humans and animal can thrive. In the Canaan Valley, the Conservancy’s strategy includes restoring stands of balsam fir, conserving remaining red spruce trees, and reducing the impact of non-native plant species. In the Cheat Mountain area, the Conservancy is replanting native hardwoods and removing non-native trees and invasive species. But that’s just a small portion of the group’s work. The Conservancy has 17 preserves across the state and has protected nearly 120,000 acres of West Virginia wilderness. 304.637.0160, nature.org/westvirginia, @westvirginianatureconservancy on Facebook


Best Musician/Band

DAVISSON BROTHERS

This hard-driving modern country band—fronted by brothers Donnie and Chris Davisson on lead vocals and lead guitar, respectively—got its start in Clarksburg but has now won fans all over the country with bluegrass-tinged tunes like “Foot Stompin’,” “Big City Hillbilly,” and “Jesse James.” The group is now based in Nashville, but you can often catch them at Schmitt’s Saloon and Davisson Brothers Music Hall in Morgantown. davissonbrothersband.com, @davissonbros on Facebook

Runners-Up

COMPANY STORES
Soul, folk, and rock ’n’ roll meet in the music of this Charleston-based “hill hop” band. thecompanystores.com, @thecompanystores on Facebook

ONA
Wilco fans will love this Huntington-area quintet and its earthy indie rock. thebandona.com, @thebandona on Facebook


Best Theater Company

CHARLESTON LIGHT OPERA GUILD

Charleston Light Opera Guild has been bringing a bit of Broadway to the Mountain State since 1949. This volunteer theater company counts country artist Kathy Mattea and Hollywood actress Jennifer Garner among its alumni. The company produces several musicals each year, so make sure to attend a show and keep an eye peeled for West Virginia’s next superstar. 304.342.9312, charlestonlightoperaguild.org, @charlestonlightoperaguild on Facebook

Runners-Up

WEST VIRGINIA PUBLIC THEATRE
Now in partnership with West Virginia University’s College of Creative Arts, this Morgantown theater company provides Broadway-worthy productions and educational outreach experiences. 304.381.2382, wvpublictheatre.org, @wvpublictheatre.org on Facebook

GREENBRIER VALLEY THEATRE
In addition to its theatrical productions, this Lewisburg theater company runs a popular after-school program and summer camp for budding thespians. 304.645.3838, gvtheatre.org, @gvtheatre on Facebook

 

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