Hundreds turn out for annual festival

ELKINS – The unmistakable aroma of ramps filled downtown Elkins Saturday as hundreds of people enjoyed the sixth annual Ramps & Rail Festival.

Festival Director Harold Elbon said one of the reasons the festival was created was to allow non-profit and for-profit groups to prepare ramp dishes to sell to the public at a modest profit to help fund their respective projects.

“We encourage any vendors who want to come out to do so,” Elbon said. “It’s a great opportunity for them to get everything in order for festival season.

“It’s been a long winter and people get tired of it,” he added. “We try to give them a festival for them to enjoy as a sort of welcome to nicer weather.”

The festival featured 34 craft vendors and 20 food vendors at the Elkins Depot Town Square, specializing in ramp-based menus. Popular food items included Kiwanis International ramp burgers, ramp-a-roni rolls prepared by Davis & Elkins College Dining Services Executive Chef Melanie Campbell and her students, and ramp soup and cornbread offered by Elkins ON TRAC.

Other vendors included El Gran Sabor, which offered a ramp spin on a traditional Venezuelan dish with ramp cachapas, and the Riverside School Association, which offered their famous “wramp-wraps.” Others offered pulled pork, ramp and sausage risotto, ramp salsa, ramp butter and many other creative-and tasty-offerings.

Susan Maze and Tiffany Bourgeois, from Parkersburg, said their favorite food item was the “wramp-wrap” offered by the Riverside School Association.

“This isn’t our first time to this festival, and it definitely won’t be the last,” said Bourgeois.

Craft vendors included S&T Bees, selling beeswax soaps, lotions, lip balms, tarts and burners; WV Fruit-Berry, offering jams and jellies; Johnson Caps, who sold caps made from recycled t-shirts; and many more. Local non-profit groups such as the Randolph County Humane Society, Women’s Aid in Crisis and the Snowshoe Foundation also had vendor stands in the Town Square.

The event’s one-hour train ride aboard the New Tygart Flyer was a hit again this year, officials said

“There is something amazing about what that train means to people when it pulls into Elkins,” said the Festival’s master of ceremonies, Delegate Bill Hartman, D-Randolph.

Ginger and Jim Foster said they traveled all the way from Fayette County to enjoy the festival and the train ride.

“We’ve traveled about 130 miles to be here today,” Ginger Foster said. “This is the first time at the festival. We do things like this all the time and this one really stands out.”

Elbon said more than 400 people took advantage of the train ride. He called this year’s turnout “one of the best.”

“We appreciate all the support we get each year,” Elbon said. “This is the most vendors we’ve ever had and we hope to see it grow again next year.”

The event also featured a wide variety of entertainment from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., including music from Appalachian Spirit, Seth Maynard & Osmosis and The Ginsangers.

The event was sponsored by the Elkins Depot Welcome Center, the West Virginia Division of Culture & History, the Randolph County Development Authority, the Randolph County Commission and the city of Elkins.