ELKINS, W.Va. — The 79th Mountain State Forest Festival kicked off Saturday with opening ceremonies, and a plethora of activities, including the strongman contest, 10K run/walk and the Parade of Children followed.
As usual, Sunday’s parade drew thousands of people to downtown Elkins to celebrate the opening of the nine-day extravaganza.
“Wild, Wild West Virginia” was the theme for this year’s children’s parade, with toddlers and teens alike dressed in old-west finery. Some of the participants wore colorful cowboy and cowgirl costumes, while others wore a variety of animal costumes. A couple wagons even made their way through, while onlookers beamed smiles of amazement.
“We enjoyed the theme this year,” said Bridgette Livesay. “There was a lot of variety this year.”
Maid Silvia Madeline Hope Ross and her minor court made their way down main street with the Minor Court and Royal Jesters performing along the way. Mayor Van Broughton followed the Court, and Mr. Forest Festival John Zirbs made a special appearance.
Numerous baton groups performed during the parade showing off their twirling skills. Groups included, Rising Star Baton Group, Prestige Baton Group and Stockers just to name a few, in addition to tumbling groups Center Stage, Tumble Time, Total Training, Axis and The Encore Steppers.
The Mountaineer had everyone in the crowd on their feet with his roll call, “Let’s Go Mountaineers,” while firing his musket.
“The kids enjoyed it,” said Amanda Kyle of Elkins, as she watched her twin girls Destiny and Desiree perform with the Prestige Baton Group.
Several other organizations participated in the parade, such as the Boy Scout troop, Girls Scouts troops and the Otter’s. The Elkins Middle School band led off the annual parade.
“It was a great parade,” said Calista Chewning.
Following the parade, the Children’s Fest kicked off in The Huntington Bank parking lot on Davis Avenue. This year’s theme was “Rhode Fun.” The event was sponsored by Parrack Insurance, Pro TV and Audio, Colonial Court Service Station, Colonial Motors and Walmart.
An array of activities were planned to “Spark the Senses,” which is this year’s festival theme. D.J. Ron Gooden played country-western themed music during the festivities to spark the “Sense of Hearing.” A mechanical bull was set up to allow the kids to ride and spark their “Sense of Touch.”
Maid Silvia even took a turn riding the bull with her Maids of Honor Monica Renee Rossi and Jaycie Lin Saseen. A face painting booth was there to spark the “Sense of Sight and Touch.”
Snacks also were made available for the kids to spark the “Sense of Taste.”
“It’s something fun for the kids that is free to do,” said Robin Miller, assistant director of the Forest Festival in charge of the event.