Maid Silvia tour

Students in Elkins-area schools got the chance Tuesday to meet the 77th Mountain State Forest Festival’s Maid Silvia, Ashley Elizabeth Houchin, her maids of honor, Amber Marie Karlen and Kara LeeAnne Parrack, and members of the MSFF Minor Court.

At the first stop on Tuesday’s trek, the West Virginia Highlanders bagpiper Dr. Charles Riddle played a fanfare for the court’s arrival at Citizens Bank of West Virginia. Citizens’ Chief Executive Officer Tom Derbyshire welcomed the visitors, presented the trio with gifts of Vera Bradley wallets, and introduced them to bank employees.

Derbyshire said that Houchin represented the Festival’s “New Beginnings,” while Karlen and Parrack represent the “Old Traditions,” because they had been to many past Festivals.

Houchin, Karlen and Parrack then traveled with members of the Minor Court, being greeted by Randolph County school students and faculty. They visited the Elkins Middle School and Third Ward, North School and Coalton elementary schools before arriving for lunch at Graceland.

The Maid Silvia Luncheon was prepared by Chef Melanie Campbell, the certified executive chef at Davis & Elkins College.

“I prepared a nice brunch for all those gathered today,” Campbell said. “It is something light and delightful. Today is such a special day for Ashley and the court as they visit the local school children, and I think this brunch is fitting. We are just so pleased to be a part of today and the Mountain State Forest Festival.”

Campbell prepared a mixed green salad, hot rolls, quiche, bacon and sausage. Dessert was granola and yogurt with blueberries or strawberries. Members of the Minor Court munched on pizza, chicken strips and chocolate chip cookies.

Mountain State Forest Festival Director General Cricket Leary welcomed those gathered for the luncheon. She also thanked the Houchins, Karlens and Parrack for sharing their daughters for the week.

“I am glad everyone could come out today to celebrate with Ashley,” Leary said. “I know that she is excited and looking forward to the rest of the week’s activities. Thank you for being here.”

The Queen’s Department director, Lydia Jones, thanked everyone present, and introduced Houchin’s parents Jeffery and Kelley Houchin.

“The Houchins hail from Arnoldsburg,” Jones said. “We are thrilled that Ashley is our first queen from Calhoun County.”

Elkins resident Miss Connie Linger, who traditionally designs each year’s Queen Silvia gown, as well as many of the Royal Court costumes, offered a few hints about this year’s gown.

“It is made of velvet,” Linger said. “And you can see it floating if you look to the clouds.”

Following lunch, the entourage visited Elkins High School, the Randolph Technical Center, Midland Elementary and Jennings Randolph Elementary, then ended the day with stops at the West Virginia Children’s Home and the Randolph County Senior Center.