By TIM MacVEAN
ELKINS, W.Va. — The air in Elkins Town Square will be filled with the aroma of wild leeks Saturday afternoon.
The ninth annual Ramps & Rail Festival will take place from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. at the Elkins Depot Welcome Center and feature entertainment, activities and cuisine.
This year’s event will showcase nearly 60 vendors preparing ramp-based food stuffs and selling ramp-based products and crafts.
“We have almost 60. We are overflowing, we have turned people away, which is a good thing,” Elkins Depot Welcome Center Executive Director Anne Beardslee said. “We just ran out of space.”
Food vendors hail from all across West Virginia as well as Ohio and Pennsylvania. Concoctions will include items such as ramp burgers, ramperoni rolls, ramp chili and deep fried ramp calzones, among numerous other delectable items.
“We are really excited about the wide variety of ramp cuisine that’s being offered this year,” Beardslee said. “And, a bit surprised by how far food vendors are willing to travel to participate.”
The event will feature a wide variety of musical performances from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., including Seth Maynard Jazz, Bear Hill Bluegrass and the Ginsangers.
The Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad will offer three one-hour train rides taking passengers to Norton and back. The train will depart the depot at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. Tickets for the train are still available but reservations are highly recommended.
Beardslee said the festival was founded as an effort to assist local organizations and businesses to promote themselves and generate revenue.
“A lot of nonprofits and small businesses get to showcase here and make a profit for their organization,” Beardslee said. “When we started the festival one of our goals was for nonprofits and small businesses to be able to earn some type of income from this event. Really, that was our main focus when we started so we still keep looking at it like that.”
The festival will also feature a 50/50 drawing, a silent auction with more than 70 items donated from local businesses and a raffle for a pair of handcrafted cherry table lamps, created and donated by Wayne Sheets.
“Any proceeds that we have are used to help the operation of the depot because we have a pretty limited budget,” Beardslee said. “The proceeds will go to Christmas lights and the operation of the depot.”
“It’s an exciting, busy day and it bring people from all over,” Elkins Depot Welcome Center Board President Sue Sheets, who is responsible for gathering silent auction items, added. “The merchants and everybody have been really great… I think we’ve got something for everybody, we have kid’s stuff and much more.”
Festival patrons will be given the opportunity to vote for their favorite vendors, and a plaque presentation will be made to the winning vendor(s) at 4:30 p.m.
Train tickets can be purchased by contacting the Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad at 877-686-7245, or make reservations by visiting mountainrailwv.com/special-trains.
Prior to the festival kicking off, the Highlands Trails Foundation will host a guided bike ride.
The ride will begin at the Depot Welcome Center at 9 a.m. Participants, even those that have pre-registered, are required to go to the Depot at 8:30 a.m. to either register, sign a waiver or both before being able to participate.
Accompanied by a city police cruiser, Elkins Mayor Van Broughton will lead the self-paced ride along the picturesque Allegheny Highlands Trail. The ride will follow the trail and country roads of beautiful Randolph County.
Riders can choose either a 15- or 24-mile route. The ride features two refreshment stops and a support vehicle. Both routes will be guided by an HTF volunteer. The ride will finish at the Ramps & Rail Festival, where participants can enjoy live music, art and ramp specialties offered by festival vendors.
“It’s a great chance for newcomers to experience the Allegheny Highlands Trail, and for those who know the trail to learn about rides on connecting country roads” Joey’s Bike Shop owner Joey Riddle said in a press release. “It also offers an opportunity to meet friends in a relaxed recreational setting.”
Pre-registration is available online at www.highlandstrail.org/events.
Parents or guardians must accompany children, and helmets are required for all participants.
Proceeds from the ride will benefit the Highlands Trail Foundation.
The ride is sponsored by Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad, Big Timber Brewing Company, Elkins Dental Lab, Davis Medical Center, Mary S. Boyd, M.D., Joey’s Bike Shop, Good Energy Foods, Tygart Valley Medical Specialties and Randolph County Convention and Visitors Bureau.
For more information about the Ramps & Rail + Trail Ride or the Highlands Trail Foundation, visit highlandstrail.org, find Highlands Trail Foundation on Facebook, or email [email protected]
On Friday, the Depot will also offer its third annual Rampage 5K Run/Walk. The event will begin with check-in at 6 p.m. and the run/walk beginning at 6:30 p.m. at the River Bend Park Pavilion. A 2K walk option is also available.
In addition to registering at the event, registration forms can be found at the Depot and the Elkins-Randolph County YMCA, as well as online at www.elkinsdepot.com.
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