As the leaves begin to change into a wide array of colors and the cool fall weather begins to take hold, the 76th Mountain State Forest Festival is slated to begin.
Opening ceremonies on Saturday dubbed "Magic in the Mountains" will kick off a week packed full of activities.
Director General Mike Karlen and his assistant directors have worked tirelessly over the last year to ensure the weeklong festivities make the 76th edition of the festival one of the most memorable.
"I hope visitors will try and take in as many of the festival events as they can," Karlen said in a recent interview. "We have lined up great entertainment - including the Oak Ridge Boys and Landau Eugene Murphy Jr."
Murphy is scheduled to sing the National Anthem before today's Bridgeport vs. Elkins football game at Wimer Field. Game time is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
Karlen said the festival highlights the beauty of fall and all the wonderful things that Elkins has to offer.
'America's Got Talent' winner and state native Landau Eugene Murphy Jr. is scheduled to sing the National Anthem before today's Bridgeport vs. Elkins football game at Wimer Field. Game time is 7:30 p.m.
The first major event will be the opening cermonies scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Saturday at the Jennings Randolph Federal Building. Maid Silvia Emily McRibbin Everson and her court will be on hand to meet the public and kick off the week.
Also on Saturday, the Bass Fishing Classic will kick off with a boat lunch at 6 a.m. on Scott Ford Road. The weigh-in, to determine who had the biggest catch, will be at 3 p.m. on the downtown stage in town square.
Elkins City Park will be filled with clanging sounds of the singles horseshoe tournament. Pitchers will test their skills beginning at 9 a.m.
For the first time, women will compete alongside men in a test of strength at Wimer Field in South Elkins at noon Saturday. Competitors will battle to be named the "Strongest in the Forest" during the Strong Man Contest. They will compete in several events that will measure their endurance and strength.
Competitors also will test their skills during the Irish Road Bowling event slated for 1:30 p.m. on Georgetown Road.
A new event Saturday will be the Barbecue/Wing/Rib Cook-off, which is set to take over Davis Avenue from 4 to 7 p.m.
The first day of the festival will close with a famous West Virginian taking the stage at Harper-McNeely Auditorium on the campus of Davis & Elkins College.
West Virginia native Landau Eugene Murphy Jr. - who won the 2011 "America's Got Talent" - will perform at 8 p.m.
Murphy said the show will be enjoyable for everyone, and he hopes to see a large crowd when he and his 20-piece band take to the stage to help kick off the festival.
The Forest Festival will continue Sunday with the 10K Run/Walk. Registration is at 10:30 a.m. at the starting line, Fifth Street and Davis Avenue in Elkins. Runners and walkers step off at 12:30 p.m., and the kid's run begins at 12:45 p.m.
The doubles horseshoe tournament will begin at 1 p.m. in City Park, and Gambil Amusements will open in the downtown area at 2 p.m.
One of the festival's most popular events is the Parade of Children. Children will dress up and decorate floats for the theme "Magical Kingdom." The parade will step off at 2:30 p.m., with lineup beginning at 1:45 p.m. at the corner of Railroad and South Davis avenues.
The Parade of Children will be followed by Pardi Gras, a free street fair from 4 to 6 p.m. along Davis Avenue between Third and Fourth streets.
In case of rain, the Parade of Children and Pardi Gras will be moved to Elkins High School.
Rounding off Sunday will be a performance at 7 p.m. by the American Mountain Theater at the Citizens Bank Downtown Stage in the Elkins Town Square. The performance will be followed by a fireworks display at 8:45 p.m.
Contact Anthony Gaynor by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.