BUCKHANNON — Bountiful berries, mountain memories and community collaboration are the themes of this year’s 76th West Virginia Strawberry Festival.
As the festival ramps up over the next few days. Debra Hupp, president of the West Virginia Strawberry Festival spoke at Monday’s Buckhannon-Upshur Chamber of Commerce meeting.
Opening ceremonies will be held today at the courthouse at noon and queen-elect Lexi Webb and king-elect Joseph Robinson will receive their crowns at coronation at 7 p.m. in Wesley Chapel.
“We would love to have everyone come to the coronation,” she said. “Be there around 6:30 p.m. for the pre-coronation music. It’s a little bit of a dressier event than some of the other activities. Wear your Sunday best.”
West Virginia Department of Agriculture Commissioner Kent Leonhardt is slated to crown Robinson while W.Va. Secretary of State Mac Warner has been invited to crown Webb.
“It’s a beautiful event over at Wesley Chapel,” Hupp said.
On Thursday, the Junior Royalty Parade steps down Strawberry Lane at 6:30 p.m.
“We always take late entries to try to get as many children as possible, but right now we have 80 units,” she said. To join in, call the festival office at 304-472-9036.
Earlier in the day, the Diaper Derby will be held at 10 a.m. on the courthouse plaza, followed by the Strawberry Blonde contest for those age 6 and younger.
On Friday, the Fireman’s Parade heads down Strawberry Lane at 6:30 p.m. Just prior to that will be the Buckhannon Fitness Center’s Strawberry 5K Run.
Saturday’s events include the Strawberry Mile at noon, followed by the Classic Car Parade at 12:15 p.m. and Grand Feature Parade at 1 p.m.
Live entertainment will be on Main Street both Friday and Saturday nights.
“We need to thank all of you who have jumped on board to sponsor events,” she said. “There is a lot of response we have gotten from the public. We have a lot of new sponsors coming on board and old sponsors doing different things this year.”
The festival began Saturday, May 13 with the Horse and Carriage Parade which went on.
“The rain scared off a lot of the farmers at the beginning of the day and they didn’t show,” she said. “Next year, we already have suggestions to change a few things around to accommodate the more horses, carriages and buggies.”
The winter carriage rides from Jawbone Park may return this summer with Frank White.
“Everyone enjoyed the Horse and Carriage Parade and they got a lot of nice awards,” she said. “Sunday morning, we started an archery tournament for the first time in over 30 years.
“Russ Warner came in and hosted it for us, did a great shoot. We had over 120 shooters and we had four divisions _ elementary, middle, high school and adult.
There is a timed shoot as well as target shoot.”
The entry fee was $5, which helped cover the facility fee.
Next year, Warner is looking at having it in April to attract more of the high school students.
For a complete schedule of events, visit www.wvstrawberryfestival.com.
The draft horse pull had a lot of teams despite the weather.
“It’s amazing the amount of weight they pull on those sleds,” she said. “They are the neatest thing to watch them pull the sleds.”