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MILTON — Though the coronavirus pandemic delayed production of Blenko’s annual West Virginia Day birthday piece, a design celebrating 127 years of statehood is now ready for sale.

The West Virginia Birthday piece is historically offered for sale June 20, the state’s birthday, but the pandemic took three months of production time away from Blenko Glass — not to mention, it also affected Blenko’s traditional method of distribution.

This year’s piece, “Take Me Home,” is an homage to the curvaceous and winding roads that wrap around the hills, valleys and mountains of the state.

Designed and individually hand-signed by longtime Blenko staff member Charlie Harshbarger, the piece stands 16 inches tall and is available in Blenko’s newest shade of green, mint, which pays tribute to the lush forests and woodlands that surround West Virginians. The annual piece is also hand-signed by Blenko Glass Company President John W. Blenko.

Distribution of the birthday piece typically turns Blenko into a weeklong temporary campground where the parking lot is filled with customers awaiting the sale of the exclusive piece Saturday morning.

However, 2020 will see the belated birthday event being entirely virtual to avoid large gatherings of people, many of whom come from out of state.

“We annually observe that some people are willing to wait days in line and come hundreds of miles to have the chance to purchase one of our numbered pieces,” Blenko officials said in a news release. “We are making opportunities for our followers to participate in a way that doesn’t require physical presence.”

Starting Thursday, Oct. 15, birthday pieces numbered 1-50 will be available for auction to the highest bidder via the Blenko eBay store.

“This is the only method we can see to allow some competition for the first pieces as typically those most dedicated will wait in line for days on end,” Blenko officials said.

Pieces numbered 51-157 will be offered individually on Blenko’s website on a first-come, first-served basis. Those who want to have a certain number will be able to purchase the one they want (assuming it has not been purchased yet).

Blenko officials said they know the arrangement is not ideal, but still look forward to fans’ participation and a future return to normalcy.

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