Leaves are turning to their familiar red and yellow hues as local communities prepare for fall and the annual Leaf Peepers Festival, offered in Thomas and Davis this weekend.
Bill Smith, executive director of the Tucker County Chamber of Commerce, said Saturday's silent auction is always a popular attraction during the festival.
"Between Oktoberfest and Run For It, it's part of a much bigger event," Smith said. "It's one of the more popular events on a very busy Saturday."
A truck from the Thomas Fire Department participates in the 2011 Leaf Peepers Festival Fireman’s Parade. This year’s parade will be held at 7 p.m. on Friday in Davis.
Local businesses will auction off many different items, including gift certificates, pieces of art, a whitewater trip for two and a two-day cabin stay at Mirror Lake in Canaan Valley.
Smith estimated that 1,200 to 1,500 people participated in the auction last year.
The Blackwater Canyon Leaf Peepers trail ride is another popular festival attraction. Gordon Blackley, president of the Highlands Trail Foundation, is helping to organize the event.
"It's a run down the Blackwater Canyon from the Purple Fiddle to Parsons City Park," he said. The 12.5 mile ride is entirely downhill and will be on a gravel trail surface that is suitable for mountain-bike or hybrid-style tires.
Along the way, riders will learn about the history of the local railroad and other structures.
"There are things along the trail that are pretty historical," stated Blackley.
One such feature is the coke ovens which are no longer in use. Tucker County once used the ovens to produce coke from coal. Material cooked here would be shipped to Pittsburgh and used across the eastern U.S.
Festival events begin at 10 a.m. on Friday.
The Jackson's Mill "History Hitting the Road" encampment will be located at the Alpine Lodge in Davis. Aspects of Appalachian life will be on display from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Also on Friday, the third annual fireman's parade will begin at 7 p.m. in Davis.
On Saturday, events begin at 7 a.m. with the Fall migration birds walk at the Canaan Valley Wildlife Refuge.
The Run For It 2k/5k walk/race will begin at 11 a.m. in front of the Davis firehouse.
At 10 a.m., the silent auction will take place in Davis and at 1 p.m. the Blackwater Canyon Bike Ride will start at the Purple Fiddle in Thomas.
The tracking and woods lore workshop at Blackwater Falls State Park will begin at 9 a.m. Sunday.
At the Davis fire hall, the craft show and the classic car show are scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. Sunday.
A full schedule of events can be found at canaanvalley.org/event-calendar/leaf-peepers-festival/.
Contact Casey Houser by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.