By Aila Boyd

It’s official— the dates, times and location for Botetourt Genealogy Fair 2020 have all been established.

The event, which is an effort by the Botetourt Genealogy Club, will take place at Breckinridge Elementary School on July 9, 10, 11, and 12.

I’m walking on cloud nine getting to announce these dates,” Rena Worthen, co-chair of the Botetourt Genealogy Club, said.

The Botetourt Genealogy Club held a meeting last Wednesday to announce the dates, times, and location of the Botetourt Genealogy Fair 2020.
Photo by Aila Boyd

The schedule for the event is as follows:

  • Wednesday, July 8: Set up and meet and greet from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

  • Thursday, July 9: “Focus on the Families” from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

  • Friday, July 10: “Focus on the Families” from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

  • Saturday, July 11: “Botetourt Veterans Recognition Day” from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

  • Sunday, July 12: “Children’s Day and Genetic DNA Day” from 12 to 4 p.m.

We’ve got the major points of it nailed down now,” Greg Rieley, co-chair of the Botetourt Genealogy Club, said.

Worthen explained that she and Rieley met with representatives of the county and were pleased to report that the county has agreed to sponsor the event.

Although a fee will not have to be paid in order to hold the event at Breckinridge Elementary School, the school custodian will have to be compensated for hours worked outside of his normal 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. work schedule. Worthen noted that the custodian will have to be compensated for roughly 20 hours at a rate of time and a half of his normal hourly rate.

She added that they will be able to use the public address system; however, use of the school’s Wi-Fi will have to be approved by the School Board.

At the time of the meeting, $495 had been raised to help fund the event. It was later noted that the Botetourt County Historical Society had pledged to donate $500 to the effort. Additional costs that will have to be covered include advertisements, decorations, and potential speakers.

Although additional plans haven’t been finalized, the following are being considered:

Thursday and Friday

  • Worthen will speak about the Genealogy Room at the Fincastle Library and conduct her “Grave Dowsing” demonstration.

  • A “Cemetery Map” of Botetourt County will be provided.

  • Doug Cooper will talk about the Bedford Museum Holdings.

  • Weldon Martin will speak about the Historical Museum in Botetourt County.


  • Speakers will discuss the following wars: American Revolutionary War, War of 1812, French and Indian War, American Civil War, World War I, and World War II.

  • Carter Gill, Gary Walker, and Al Linton are also being considered to give presentations.

  • The idea of having a “Civil War Ball” with a chicken dinner is also being considered, which would serve as the primary money-making venture for the event.


  • Children’s activities such as face painting, organized games, a “bouncy castle,” and a petting zoo are being considered.

  • Worthen and other organizers are hoping to have involvement from a DNA company such as or 23 & Me in order to speak about DNA or to conduct on-site DNA testing.

Other ideas that are being considered include a walking tour of Fincastle, carriage rides, and participation from well-known families throughout the county.

Although no decisions have been made concerning fees, the current idea is to allow free admission to the fair, but to charge a $10 registration fee per table for those interested in setting up booths.

Worthen noted that although a lot of progress has been made, there is still a lot of hard work to be done.

The next planning meeting will be held at the Family Life Center at Fincastle United Methodist Church on May 9 at 6:30 p.m.