West Virginia Department of Commerce Beverly Sexton

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Beverly Sexton

West Virginia The Place to Be

Beverly Sexton
American Mountain Theater, Elkins

Beverly and Kenny SextonBeverly Sexton grew up in Elkins and started performing at age nine with her family singing group, "The Heckels.” They traveled all over West Virginia and were regular cast members of the Wheeling Jamboree. At age 17, Sexton left the state to pursue a career in the music business. She won a recording contract with RCA Records in Nashville, where she had a top forty single: "Bluer Than Blue." She performed at the Grand Ole Opry and toured with stars like Conway Twitty and Loretta Lynn.

My Job: My husband and I own The American Mountain Theater (AMT), Elkins, which is the only "Branson, Missouri Style" live music, comedy and variety show in West Virginia. We opened in July 2007 and we are in our fourth season performing in our beautiful state-of-the-art theater located in the historic rail yard.

We seat up to 600 people and we produce and perform in four different shows with about 210 total performances per year. My husband and I co-produce all of the shows. I sing in all shows, play bass guitar, greet our customers at the door when they arrive and bid them goodbye when they leave. I also write some of the music and comedy skits we perform.

New Opportunities: My sister, Susie Heckel, envisioned a music theater in Elkins that would entertain folks from all over the United States and around the world! My husband, Kenny, is a CPA, businessman and former owner/producer of a similar venue in Eureka Springs, Ark. He caught Susie’s AMT vision and went all out purchasing the land and getting a brand-new facility built and opened for business in July 2007. We employ about fifteen full-time people.

Our growth has been phenomenal with 2008 up 117% compared to 2007, 2009 up 57% compared to 2008. It appears we will be up approximately 10% again this year with attendance approaching 33,000 customers or more. AMT and Elkins became the number one motorcoach destination in West Virginia in 2008 and that continues. We hosted 300 bus groups in 2009 compared to 131 groups in 2007.

American Mountain TheaterMy West Virginia Connection: "The Heckels" traveled extensively around the state. Even as a young child and early teenager, the beauty of West Virginia left me breathless and with the impression that I had seen something amazing!

Now, we are here to stay. We have planted our roots both in business and personally. My husband plans to continue to promote and build the American Mountain Theater until the attendance reaches 50,000 to 60,000 per year and possibly invest in other tourism related businesses in Elkins and West Virginia. We purchased a home here in Elkins two years ago and now have our grandson and two of our three children making Elkins their home and working for us at the American Mountain Theater.

If you’re looking to come home to West Virginia, consider doing something bold and unique in the tourism business. We would love the help bringing more and more folks to the state.

My Favorite Places: My favorite places in West Virginia are places with childhood memories attached. Blackwater Falls has to be one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. In West Virginia, you can drive anywhere on a two-lane road and you will smile at the simple and lose-your-breath at the majesty.

West Virginia’s Best Kept Secret: West Virginia offers a unique location in that it is a road "well" traveled while maintaining the feel of a road "less" traveled. We all know it is here, yet it is somehow undiscovered!