The 2012 Mountain State Forest Festival is now history. The street barricades have been removed, the sidewalks and streets are cleaned, the carnival and vendors have packed up and moved to the next town, the thousands of visitors have returned home, and life is settling back into its normal routine. Now that our family has had a few weeks to decompress and reflect on our experience, we feel compelled to write this letter.
Our daughter, Emily McKibbin Everson, served this year as Maid/Queen Silvia for the 76th Mountain State Forest Festival. While we were counseled in advance about what our experience would be like, no amount of coaching could prepare us for our actual experience, as it greatly exceeded our expectations.
We were genuinely impressed with the citizens of Elkins and Randolph County, with their gracious welcome, the warm hospitality, and kindness as we were taken in and made one of your own. From all ends of the county and in every location around town, we were welcomed with open arms and gladly received into your community.
The genuine nature of your residents is what made our experience of the 2012 Forest Festival such an enjoyable adventure. Our daughter was truly treated like royalty, and for your kindness we offer our sincerest thank you. It was a "magical experience."
We need to acknowledge and express our appreciation to the residents of the city, and county, to the board of directors, the assistant directors, and to the many individuals behind the scenes who worked so hard to make the 2012 Mountain State Forest Festival a resounding success. Elkins and Randolph County can be proud of the Mountain State Forest Festival and the folks who work tirelessly to organize and facilitate the events. Without question, it is the best festival in the state of West Virginia.
It's difficult to cite specific individuals as having made our participation special, because there were so many individuals whose collective efforts contributed to our experience. There are so many people behind the scenes making the Forest Festival function smoothly that the number of volunteers was a little overwhelming, but we appreciate your efforts. A special note of appreciation to Director General Mike Karlen and his wife, Susan; being matched up with the Karlen family was a perfect pairing and a tremendous blessing, and made for a memorable experience. We're grateful for their kindness and newfound friendship.
Also thanks to the parents of the maids of honor, Rich and Marsha Nida, and Todd and Kelly Thompson, for their graciousness and camaraderie during the festival. We've formed several great friendships that will continue through time. We also need to acknowledge Assistant Director Lydia Wagner Jones, and the Queen's Department and their entire support team for everything that they do we're in awe.
The Mountain State Forest Festival will become an annual pilgrimage for our family, as we seek to nurture the friendships, reflect on the memories and create new adventures. We now consider Elkins and Randolph County our home away from home. Thanks for everything; we'll see you next year at the 77th Mountain State Forest Festival.
John and Lisa Everson