Mountaineer Week has evolved from its initial festivities in 1947 when it was created as a weekend event to arouse school spirit. Students were invited to attend a dance adorning mountaineer costumes in which awards were given to those most representative of a true Mountaineer. In 1948, a parade on High Street and University Avenue commenced before the home opener, and in 1949 the first-ever beard growing competition was held. During the 1950s, fashion shows, folk singing events and Friday night concerts were added to the event.
In 1962, the Mr. and Ms. Mountaineer contest was added to the festivities. The announcement of Mr. & Ms. Mountaineer is made during the half-time ceremony of the Mountaineer Week football game. This prestigious award honors one male and one female student who have a record of academic achievement and extracurricular involvement. Mr. and Ms. Mountaineer represent WVU and the state of West Virginia.
In 1972, Mountaineer weekend was extended into a week-long event and appropriately titled “Mountaineer Week.” The first Mountaineer Week Arts and Crafts Festival was also initiated that year, as well as a Mountaineer dinner, PRT Cram, games, concerts and a downtown festival. Today, the craft fair is held in the Gold and Blue Ballrooms of the Mountainlair and features traditional and contemporary crafts of Appalachia with more than 65 artisans from West Virginia and neighboring states. The PRT Cram, an event in which teams of students attempt to fill a PRT car with as many people as possible, has traditionally been a favorite among students. A fiddler’s contest, held in the Gluck Theatre of the Mountainlair, features local, state, and neighboring fiddlers. Mountaineer Week has also involved square dances and clogging exhibitions.
Each year, the WVU Alumni Association, the WVU Foundation, and the Mountaineer Week Committee recognize some of WVU’s most loyal Mountaineers during a half time presentation during Mountaineer Week. The Most Loyal West Virginian and Alumni Mountaineer awards have been presented since 1974. The Most Loyal Faculty and Staff Mountaineer award was created in 1994 and split into two separate honors in 2003.
In 2004, the first-ever Mountaineer Idol contest was held featuring WVU students in a six-week-long singing competition. Since its inception, Mountaineer Idol has grown in popularity throughout the WVU campus. Each of the six elimination rounds featuring a different pre-determined music genre each week draws in hundreds of students to cheer on their favorite Mountaineer Idol contestant.