Pickens hosts Maple Festival

For the past 29 years, Debby and Stephen Morgan have been among a small group of volunteers serving up a tasty tradition at the Maple Syrup Festival in Pickens.

Some folks stand in line for more than two hours to get a stack of hot cakes and sausage drizzled with the festival’s main attraction – maple syrup.

“It’s amazing the people that do come for this,” Debby Morgan said, noting visitors come from Ohio, Maryland, North Carolina and many other parts of the region to enjoy the festival, which also features music, crafts, dances, a quilt show and special events in the small town in rural Randolph County.

The Morgans, of Buckhannon, said volunteering at the pancake meals is “kind of a family thing,” with a number of siblings, spouses and children coming together each year to help.

“We all come back home to do this,” Debby Morgan said.

The popular meals are served at the American Legion Hall and Pickens School for several hours each Saturday and Sunday during the festival, and the proceeds benefit Pickens’ community buildings, she continued. On average, the volunteers serve about 3,000 pancake meals each year over the two days at the school and the Legion hall, she added.

After the volunteers finish serving pancakes, they switch over to preparing a ham and beans dinner each evening.

Volunteer Eileen Been, of Pickens, said they would go through about 100 pounds of potatoes, 140 gallons of milk, eight cases of plain pancake mix and seven cases of buckwheat pancake mix this weekend.

“I really don’t know how much sausage (would be consumed). … I don’t know how much coffee, either,” Been said.

Another resident of the Pickens area, Leslie White, was volunteering at the Roberts/Cunningham Museum in Pickens on Saturday.

White said her favorite part of the 29th annual festival is the music – she herself takes the stage to sing each year.

Of course, she also enjoys seeing old friends and making new ones. She said she ran into a man Saturday whom she hadn’t seen in 30 years.

“You definitely see people you haven’t seen in a long time,” she said.

Besides checking out the museum, getting a tasty meal and listening to music, another popular festival activity is buying handmade items from craft vendors.

Beverly Martin, of Fairmont, was selling handmade wooden birdhouses this weekend with her son, Jarrett. The items are made by her father, Howard Ailstock, who lives in Fairmont now but was born in Elkins.

Martin said business was fairly steady Saturday, with a number of people coming past her table.

“I really didn’t think there’d be a lot because of the weather,” she added, noting the cold rain that fell most of the day Saturday and Sunday’s snowy forecast.

Another craft vendor at the Maple Festival this weekend was Bonnie Puffenbarger of Marlinton, who sells handcrafted jewelry.

She said she’s been in the jewelry business for six years, and this was her fourth year at the festival in Pickens.

“They’ve got a lot going on down here,” Puffenbarger said. “It’s really really quaint and they still have a lot of the old-time ways. … I think it’s just as cute as can be.”

More information about Pickens and its festival is available by calling 304-924-5096 or visiting pickenswv.squarespace.com/maple-syrup-festival.