Blast off with the real Rocket Boys

Rub elbows with the Rocket Boys themselves!

In the 1950s, against all odds, a group of boys from a small coal town in West Virginia began to build rockets. At first, they failed. But they persevered and eventually won the Gold and Silver award at the 1960 National Science Fair.

You may already know their story from the Hollywood hit “October Sky,” or the original “Rocket Boys” memoir by popular author (and home-grown rocketeer) Homer Hickam.

Celebrate these amazing accomplishments at the Rocket Boys Festival, which was moved from the story’s real-life setting in Coalwood to nearby Beckley to accommodate the crowds. (West Virginians are proud of our history, and our people!)Man trip cart and miner, Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine, West Virginia

Festivities kick off with the Rocket Boys Film Festival, showcasing short films, microfilms, the 1991 film “Paradise Park,” and, of course, “October Sky.”

Attend a lunch with Homer Hickam himself, enjoy food and craft vendors and explore local art.

Want to get an authentic feel of life in a WV coal town? The Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine will be open, so you can descend underground on a mantrip with a veteran miner to learn firsthand how coal was mined.

A crowd favorite is when Beckley turns into Cape Coalwood for the day, launching rockets high into the sky from New River Park!

This post was last updated on March 16, 2022