Every morning, the air feels just a bit more crisp and the leaves have the beginning tinges of fall color. That can only mean the Mountain State Forest Festival, with all of its pageantry and fun, is just around the corner. And this year, a favorite Festival event has been honored as the best in West Virginia.
Cricket Leary, director general of the 2013 Mountain State Forest Festival, said she was thrilled that so many people selected the Grand Feature Parade as the best parade in West Virginia, an award given by WV LIVING Magazine.
"Everyone works hard to make sure the Mountain State Forest Festival Grand Feature Parade is a success," Leary said. "This year, the event will feature more than 100 different units including 15 bands from across the state, including one of my personal favorites, the West Virginia Highlanders."
Nikki Bowman, editor in chief of WV LIVING, said the magazine announced the results of the competition earlier this month in the fall 2013 issue.
"It is no wonder thousands of people line the streets to watch this parade every year," Bowman said. "Our readers loved the size and location of this event. Autumn colors, marching bands and two miles of entertainment straight through downtown Elkins. What's not to love?"
Leary said the event is fun for folks of all ages.
"Our Honorary Parade Marshal is Stanley Gould, a well-known Randolph County resident," Leary said. "West Virginia native Wyatt Turner, who performed on the television show 'The Voice,' will be participating in the parade as a special guest. Queen Silvia Ashley Elizabeth Houchin and Royal Court members, donned in rich velvet costumes, add the final touch to our beautiful quilted mountain backdrop."
Leary said she would like to invite everyone to attend this year's festival events, especially the Grand Feature Parade, and added, "If you have never attended before, we welcome you to let our 'old tradition' be your 'new beginning.'"
Mountain State Forest Festival Assistant Director Rich Nida, who heads up the Grand Feature Parade, said he was very proud to receive the news about the parade.
"There are so many people who help make this parade the very best, including Assistant Director Robin Miller and former Assistant Director Tamara Bailey," Nida said. "The parade is a tremendous task and we have a committee of nearly 20 volunteers that work very hard to put everything together to pull off the parade on Saturday. They are very committed and great at what they do."
Nida said the volunteers gather at dawn Saturday morning to make sure people, floats, cars, bands and all other entries in the parade are in the correct location, and work tirelessly through the event.
"Most of the committee members have been doing this for more than 10 years and they are truly dedicated to making sure the parade is fun and the best it can be," Nida said.
The Mountain State Forest Festival Grand Feature Parade steps off beginning at 1:30 Oct. 5. Additional information about the parade and all MSFF events is available on-line at www.forestfestival.com or by calling the office at 304-636-1824.