West Virginia is a state with a story around every scenic turn, and our people are known for sharing tales of generations past from countries all over the world. West Virginia is a melting pot of diverse cultures and traditional heritage, and I can’t think of a better way to share our history than the variety of fairs and festivals held in the Mountain State each year.
In the tiny town of Helvetia in Randolph County, a community comes alive each year for Fasnacht, where townspeople and their guests drive away ‘old man winter’ with a traditional Swiss costumed parade and dance in the community’s Star Band Hall. In Berkeley Springs, festival-goers warm the cold winter days with its internationally-known Taste of the Waters event.
As the seasons change from winter to spring, ramp festivals pop up across the state. Community town halls, churches and schools celebrate spring weather with country dinners, music and fun. The city of Lewisburg tempts everyone with its annual Chocolate Festival. And, while not technically a festival, the annual Spring Quilt Shop Hop brings together quilters from around the state to meet and share quilting stories.
The annual Vandalia Gathering on Memorial Day weekend marks the start of summer festivals and fairs. West Virginia fair fans could spend nearly every weekend at a different gathering in almost every county throughout the summer. Clarksburg hosts the Italian Heritage Festival. Shepherdstown serves up fresh theater performances at the Contemporary American Theater Festival. The Mountain State Arts and Craft Fair sparks creative energy every Fourth of July. Music and dance share center stage at the annual Augusta Heritage Festival, and folk life traditions are everything at the West Virginia State Folk Festival in Glenville. Charleston becomes a work of art with FestivALL, and Huntington’s River Days spark fun along the Ohio River. Historic Camp Washington Carver at Clifftop hosts the Appalachian String Band Festival, where traditional musicians from around the world compete for awards and pass their love of music on to West Virginia’s youth.
Summer might unofficially come to a close on Labor Day, but here in West Virginia, it goes out with a bang at our State Fair in Fairlea, Greenbrier County. But, don’t count all of West Virginia’s festival fun out yet.
Enjoy Bridge Day in Fayetteville and the Pumpkin Festival in Milton. Hit the road for Oktoberfest in Bramwell and the Leaf Peepers Festival in Tucker County. Pageantry reigns supreme at the annual Forest Festival in Elkins, as Queen Silvia and her court parade through town.
As the year draws to an end, holiday light shows brighten parks and towns around the state. Oglebay Park’s Festival of Lights in Wheeling draws in cars full of families and buses full of tourists every year to explore the historic trail of lights and the Olgebay holiday gift shops. You can also stop by other light festivals and holiday home tours in St. Albans, Bramwell and Parkersburg.
If you find yourself with a free weekend, I encourage you to stop in and experience all that our celebrated traditions have to offer - you can’t go wrong! For more information on this year’s fairs and festivals schedule, visit www.gotoWV.com.