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West Virginia is serious about showcasing its heritage and honoring its culture, and you’ll find plenty of both on display at festivals and events throughout the state.
The Mountain State is home to gorgeous fall colors, and Princeton celebrates the season during Autumnfest each September with food, entertainment, and family-friendly activities. Meanwhile, early September is when you’ll find the Oak Leaf Festival in Oak Hill – come out for a beauty pageant, fireworks, a parade, a carnival, and plenty of food, arts, and crafts vendors.
Beautiful downtown Lewisburg is the scene of several festivals year-round – favorites include Taste of Our Town in October, the Holiday Open House, April’s Chocolate Festival, and the Battle of Lewisburg in May. Make sure you come by on the first Friday of each month to enjoy First Fridays After Five. Lewisburg is also home to Carnegie Hall, which has a vibrant calendar full year-found of events ranging from a cappella to orchestra and folk music – there are also lots of exhibits and film showings.
The Christmas holidays bring out good cheer and good times. Visit the 40-acre Holiday of Lights display in Bluefield or the Feast of the Seven Fishes in Fairmont. Martinsburg hosts Colonial Christmas at the Ada Stephen House and Point Pleasant hosts Fort Randolph’s Christmas on the Frontier. Make sure to visit Harpers Ferry for Olde Tyme Christmas and Beckley for the Appalachian Coal Town Christmas celebration.
West Virginia is home to wild, clear, and scenic rivers, and river culture is honored at the Ronceverte River Festival each June – enjoy free entertainment and a rubber ducky race! The West Virginia State Water Festival is held each August in Hinton and you can witness the coronation of Queen Mermaid and Little Miss Mermaid, plenty of live music, a craft show, karaoke contest, rubber ducky race, car show, and more. See the New River from a new perspective during Bridge Day, which is held each October – the bridge closes to all motor vehicle traffic and is filled with vendors and BASE jumpers. Hinton is also the spot for the Festival of the Rivers, a two-day music festival which is held each Labor Day weekend and celebrates rivers and railroad culture.
Mountain culture has several days in its honor around the state. Celebrate in a unique West Virginia fashion at the Hometown Mountain Heritage Festival in Ansted, which features arts, crafts, food, and a lot of music and old-fashioned fun. Bluefield’s Mountain Festival has live entertainment, fireworks, frats, and a carnival – it’s held each year at the end of May. Early June is when the Mountain Music Festival is held at ACE Adventure Resort – the diverse lineup has included funk, blues, hillbilly, groove, and rockabilly. One of the best mountain culture events is the Appalachian Festival in Beckley – fill up at the Hillbilly Breakfast or A Taste of Appalachia. Clifftop is the mountain-top setting for the annual Appalachian String Band Festival, a five-day gathering of string band musicians and fans from around the world.
Hot summer days are better with cold drinks, and the best in the state can be found at the Lemonade Festival in Bluefield – besides a lemon cook-off there’s food, crafts, music, and car show. At the same time you can enjoy the Bluefield Bluesfest, which has live blues music, beer, and food. For something more adult-oriented, grab a ticket to the West Virginia Wine and Jazz Festival, held each September in Morgantown – ticket prices include a wine glass and wine tasting. Around the same time wine lovers can show up at Kirkwood Winery’s annual Grape Stomping Festival – there’s wine and whiskey tasting plus clogging and covered wagon rides.
The state has a long love affair with railroads, and trains big and small are celebrated at several events. Hinton’s Railroad Days, held the last two weekends of October, coincides with peak fall foliage and has New River train rides along with crafts, quilts, food, and entertainment. Celebrate the legend of the Steel Drivin’ Man at Talcott’s John Henry Days Festival, a three-day event showcasing music, crafts, a parade, a car show, and water events. Each November Bluefield hosts the Pocahontas Model Train Show which delights kids and train enthusiasts.
Looking for something for your kids? The Beckley Kids Classic Festival is a multi-day community-wide event with affordable and fun activities as well as contests and kid-centric entertainment. Kids love strawberries, and they’ll go nuts at the West Virginia Strawberry Festival, held each May in Buckhannon. Get ready for fall at the Apple Butter Festival in Berkeley Springs, where kids can stir spicy apple butter in giant copper kettles. The West Virginia Black Walnut Festival in Spencer has a parade, the Nut Run, a flower show, a carnival, a car show, and a Kids Day Parade where little ones can be pushed in a stroller or pedal their own tricycle.
The state’s best way to celebrate the end of summer is at the State Fair of West Virginia. Held each August in Fairlea, the huge fair showcases farm machinery, midway rides, high stakes bingo, industrial tools, political candidates, harness racing, and a traveling carnival with exciting rides.
Established in 2001, the West Virginia Dance Festival is an annual dance student and instructor performance set in Charleston. Found in central West Virginia, the festival is operated by the West Virginia Division of Culture and History. The WV Dance Festival is a three-day event held in April, located at the West Virginia Cultural Center along the Kanawha River. The festival features performances of ballet, jazz, and modern dance.