Mountain State Forest Festival preparations underway

A local girl’s hard work and determination has finally paid off. After being runner-up for two years, Alexis Ayers was named to serve as Woodly the Elf for the 77th Mountain State Forest Festival. Alexis’ poster was chosen as the best from a field of more than 30 submitted for the contest.

Woodly, the figure of an elf painting an oak leaf in the brilliant colors of fall, originally was sketched by Arnold Schulz of the U.S. Forest Service in 1957. It was adopted as the official logo of the Mountain State Forest Festival. Woodly has served as the symbol of the festival for more than 40 years.

As the result of a countywide “Name the Elf” contest conducted in Randolph County grade schools that drew more than 1,000 entries, the name “Woodly” submitted by Christina Hensil, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Hensil, was selected. With childlike simplicity, she reasoned, “When I think of the Forest Festival, I think of the woods, so I named the elf Woodly.” The winning name earned Christina a $25 savings bond and the appointment of serving as Woodly in 1970.

In 1969, Jaime Sue McGee, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. James McGee, served as “Woodly the First.”

Alexis’ poster depicts Woodly on a red and yellow tie-dyed background. Woodly imagines all the fun she will have visiting the schools, at the pet show, at the carnival and Festival City, in the Grand Feature Parade, at the log chopping contest and at coronation.

“I am very excited to be named Woodly the Elf,” Alexis said. “I am most looking forward to walking down coronation hill.”

Alexis is a fifth-grade student at Jennings Randolph Elementary School. She is the daughter of Kyle and Heather Ayers, and the granddaughter of Kenny and Karen Ayers.

“We are so happy she was named Woodly,” said Karen Ayers. “She has put her heart into this contest for the past three years. We are so happy for her.”

Mountain State Forest Festival Director General Cricket Leary said she enjoyed seeing the many ideas and colorful posters submitted in the Woodly contest.

“Many students submitted very nice posters,” Leary said. “We are proud of all of you.”

Woodly the Elf, who is part of the minor court, is included in many events throughout the festival.

In addition to coronation, Woodly participates in the Parade of Children and Grand Feature Parade. The Buckwheat Festival, Wood Chopping Festival, Coalton Days Parade and Strawberry Festival also are on the list of events at which Woodly will be featured.

Contact Beth Christian Broschart by email at