Being a native of West Virginia, I was more than glad to see how downtown Martinsburg was coming back to life. I remember the days when downtown was the place to be, then when it went the way of the ghost after the mall was built, but know there is a resurgence thanks to Main Street Martinsburg. So I got the thinking, I’ve lived in different parts of West Virginia and wondered if Main Street Martinsburg’s festival would stand up to some of the others around the state.
While there isn’t much going on around the state early in the year, February has the “International Water Festival” in Berkley Springs. Okay, I know what you’re thinking, but it’s not a bad disguise for an ice festival. Actually, this festival is known around the world as a place for water companies to come and taste as well as introduce new products and packaging.
Fast forward to April and Main Street Martinsburg has a series of event including the Chocolate Festival and Book Fair. They even have Jerry West signing books, yeah that Jerry West, and by that Jerry West I mean NBA All World player, West Virginia native, NBA logo model…Jerry West. Then of course there is the chocolate part of the Chocolate Festival, which includes a cupcake contest as well as other chocolate related activities. Sounds like just the thing for bookworms with a sweet tooth.
May has a big pair of festivals in the state. First there is the Vandalia Gathering in Charleston on Memorial Day weekend, then there’s also the Strawberry Festival in Buchannon with a carnival, arts and craft exhibits, quilt show, photography show, souvenir shop, band competition, car show, strawberry auction, all rounded off with the huge block parties on Friday and Saturday nights.
June really has one big event in the states capital. It’s the FestivALL and it was conceived in 2004 and first produced in 2005 with the aim to produce and present high-quality artistic events including all of the arts: music, dance, theater, visual art and film - both national and international artists as well as the best local and regional talent.
In July, the mountain state really gets ready for summer with an international festival, a heritage festival and here in Martinsburg a summer concert series. Down in Ripley, they have the The Mountain State Art and Craft Fair has been a West Virginia family tradition since 1963. Known widely as the “Grandaddy of Art and Craft Fairs” in the region, the fair has served as model for how to execute a professional and successful arts and craft fair event. Now over 45 years old, the fair introduces attendees to the best of world-class artisan exhibitors and their excellent craftsmanship, as well as entertainers, contests and fine foods. While in Wheeling, they have a little international flavor with the Upper Ohio Valley Italian Heritage Festival is the largest Italian Festival in West Virginia and the 2nd largest in the United States! The event attracts more than 175,000 visitors from around the United States and Canada. Meanwhile Martinsburg’s summer concert series has several local artists performing every week during the month.
August pretty much has one big event in Clarksburg. The pride in the cultural heritage of Italian-Americans in West Virginia gave life to the idea of a Festival in Clarksburg to honor the past, celebrate the present, and preserve rich traditions for future generations.
With each successive year, the festival has grown, and now is rated one of the "Top 100 Events in North America" including Canada and Mexico. Each year, this 3-day street festival brings over 100,000 visitors to Clarksburg.
Finally in September, the event I’m familiar with due to the fact I went to college there, is the Mountain State Forest Festival in Elkins. A tradition since 1930, this eight-day event presents a variety of shows, exhibitions, and competitions, many of them related to the forest theme. Competitions are held in such traditional skills as log stacking, muzzle loading, archery, spear throwing (atlatl), horseshoe pitching, and various logging skills for the title of champion lumberjack. Several traditional crafts exhibits are displayed, including a juried arts and crafts show. The two-hour Grand Feature Parade, covering over two miles, includes nearly 20 bands, floats, and special units.
There you have it, just some of the wonders of the mountain state. With gas prices the way they are now, remember to enjoy all the great things right in your own back yard!