The sweet smell of strawberries will be dancing through the streets of Buckhannon this week with the start of the annual West Virginia Strawberry Festival, an event that gives Upshur County a head start on the summer season.
This is the 71st year the festival has been in the Upshur County town, and each year creates a new pile of memories for young and old alike. The festival is filled with traditions, and hopefully a new one was started this year with the pre-festival weekend Horse and Carriage Parade and the Wild West show. Both events seemed to draw the crowds to downtown Buckhannon. Other traditions that quickly come to mind are the parades and the pageantry, or those special individual ones for which people annually made the trek to their favorite vendor for that once-a-year taste sensation.
But it's not just the strawberries that draw the thousands upon thousands of visitors to the streets. It's that Buckhannon rolls out the fittingly red carpet to greet those people. Window after window of the downtown businesses is filled with welcoming signs that tell people their presence is joyfully appreciated.
The festival has a little something for everyone, even if the juicy red berries aren't to your liking. There's a slew of parades, featuring everything from the festival queen and king to antique cars, fire trucks and marching bands. That means plenty of opportunities for the young and young-at-heart to fill their bags with candy tossed from the floats.
It's a great time to get out and see those long-lost neighbors who haven't been seen since the leaves fell from the trees. The West Virginia Strawberry Festival offers you a chance to get out, shake the winter from your bones and renew old acquaintances.
But maybe more importantly to many of the civic and charitable groups in and around Buckhannon, the West Virginia Strawberry Festival offers them a chance to raise money to fund those good works they do for their neighbors. Many of the groups that set up shop along the streets depend on that money to operate their clubs, civic groups and churches. The festival offers those people a much- needed economic shot in the arm.
The festival kicks off at noon today with the opening ceremonies on the plaza of the Upshur County Courthouse. Is there a better way to sweep away those winter blahs and gray skies than by having a big bowl of those red strawberries especially if it were to include shortcake, whipped cream and ice cream.