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Businesses encouraged to join Ramps and Rails Fest

April 17, 2010
By Wayne Sheets, Contributing Business Writer

Don't forget to keep room in you schedule next Saturday for the second annual Ramps and Rails Festival on the Town Square in Elkins. Food vendors will begin setting up operations and preparing food at 8 a.m. and selling at 10:30 a.m.

This would seem to be an excellent opportunity for downtown merchants and restaurateurs to join the festivities. Merchants might consider extending their business hours and let everyone know with a bit of additional advertising. There will be plenty of food on the Town Square until around 5 p.m., but as the saying goes the evening will still be quite young.

Perhaps restaurant owners, also through a bit of extra advertising, could entice those who have had their fill of ramp recipes and are not continuing their evening's revelry on the dinner train to come by their place for their evening meal and entertainment. What better way to top off a festive day. This is an excellent opportunity for the whole town to get involved in the festivities and have a fun day doing it.

The event is expected to draw the largest crowd ever with music featuring the Ginsangers from 10:45 a.m. until 12:15 p.m. Mick Souter will entertain from 12:30 p.m. until 2 p.m. At 2:15 p.m., Greg Riordan, a well known acoustic rock guitar player, will entertain until 3:15 p.m. The Appalachian Jazz will take the stage at 3:30 p.m. and conclude the day's musical program at 5 p.m.

For the first time this year's festival will feature a one-hour train ride on The New Tygart Flyer departing the depot at 2 p.m. for Norton and return. Tickets are $7 per person. What a great opportunity to take the kids or grandkids for their first train ride.

Winners of the vendor competitions will be presented their trophies at 5 p.m. and the four-hour Ramp Festival Mountain Explorer Dinner Train will depart the Elkins Depot.

Come out and enjoy a day of fine food - all or most of which will contain ramps in one form or another. There will also be crafts of all descriptions available for browsing and purchasing.


According to The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index, consumer confidence decreased in February and rebounded in March. The Index now stands at 52.5, up from 46.4 in February.

"Consumer confidence, which had declined sharply in February, managed to recoup most of the loss in March," says Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center. "However, despite this month's increase, consumers continue to express concern about current business and labor market conditions. And, their outlook for the next six months is still rather pessimistic. Overall, consumer confidence levels have not changed significantly since last spring."


Here are the Smith Travel Research Hotel/Motel Statistics for February 2010

Occupancy Rate was 51.9 percent, up 1.3 percent; Average Daily Rate was $73.28, down 0.8 percent; Revenue per Available Room was $38.05, up 0.5 percent; Room Demand (number of rooms sold) was 387,766, up 3.4 percent.

There are indications that the travel industry may be picking up. Peter Yesawich, chairman and CEO of the Ypartnership and noted travel and tourism leader, said that there are some anecdotal indicators that the travel industry could start to recover this year, but probably not until the latter half of the year.

"The culprit remains the languishing economy," Yesawich said. "And although the most recent GDP numbers provide some encouragement and job losses have abated, consumers have adopted more conservative saving and spending patterns because they remain uncertain about the horizon line and have yet to recover from the systemic shock they experienced while they watched helplessly as a significant chunk of their net worth evaporated during the past 18 months.

"This signifies another year in which value will be in vogue, and both business and leisure travelers will sharpen their travel planning and purchasing skills further to ensure they don't overpay. Also, tourists' discovery and embrace of the next generation of online shopping tools is certain to place additional pressure on margins.

"What will be in this year will be drive vacations, mid-priced hotels, low-cost carriers, all-inclusive resorts, packaged vacations, and cruises (regardless of duration)."

Yesawich said that marketing tracking studies confirm that Americans still view vacations as a birthright. For more information, visit


You've all seen and heard the e-mail commercial on TV that goes something like, "Wait a minute, let me check my e-mail. It's not loading! Let me try it again."

Well, maybe that's because, according to an article in the April 12 issue of Time magazine, the United States ranks 22nd in global Internet-connection speed.

Google, however, according to the article, has ambitions to change that. They are considering spending $1 billion to build an ultra-fast, fiber-optic network in one or more U.S. city that will transmit 1 gigabit per second - fast enough to download a feature length movie in about 79 seconds. Now that's fast. Why are we always in such an all-fired hurry?


Members of the Elkins Pilot's Club are planning a Fly-in Breakfast/Brunch at the Elkins-Randolph County Airport on May 15 from 10 a.m. until around 3 p.m. or whatever time the visitors decide to go home. If the weather cooperates, there should be an interesting mix of private aircraft gathered at the airport from around 9 a.m. until late afternoon.

This would be a good time to take the youngsters out to the airport, have brunch or lunch or a snack and enjoy looking at some of the private fleet of pleasure and business airplanes.

Planners are preparing to serve hamburgers, hot dogs, chips and soft drinks at a nominal fee.

Preliminary information indicates that efforts are in progress to see if the U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Marine Corps and Army National Guard will provide aircraft for a static display. According to planners, none have committed yet but indications are positive about supporting the event by supplying airplanes.

The Elkins Car Club has also been contacted to see if some of the local antique car owners will put their vehicles on display for the pleasure of those who attend the event.

There is no charge to attend. The purpose is to get folks to visit the airport and become familiar with one of the most important parts of the area's commercial infrastructure.

More information will be made available as details of the event fall into place.



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