Parade splashes through soggy Strawberry Festival

BUCKHANNON – The rain didn’t dampen spirits during the West Virginia Strawberry Festival’s activities Thursday.

The Junior Royalty Parade still marched down Strawberry Lane, a collection of streets in downtown Buckhannon that make up the WVSF parade route, despite the gray sky and persistent rain Thursday. However, the Gambill Amusement rides did not take a spin in the pouring rain, although the public had other activities to enjoy.

“Despite the rain, we’re definitely having a blast and having a lot of fun here in Buckhannon,” WVSF Queen Nichole Greene said.

“(It has been) absolutely amazing,” Teen Queen Dominique Collins said.

Festival royalty helped kick off Thursday’s activities with the Strawberry Blonde and Diaper Derby contests. Collins, Greene and King Steve Butler served as judges during the Strawberry Blonde competition.

“Oh my gosh, how do you pick a cute kid?” Greene said. “They’re so adorable, and there’s so many strawberry blondes in one town. How ironic that you have the Strawberry Festival here. Lots of little red-heads. It was very cute and very fun.”

Judges separated their favorite strawberry blondes from a crowd of dozens to further narrow down their choices. In first place was 10-month-old Braylee Turansky of Buckhannon. In second place was Jaxon McDaniels, 2, of Buckhannon. In third place was Sarah Coffman, 4, of Buckhannon.

The winners of both the Strawberry Blonde and the Diaper Derby contests were invited to participate in the parade. The contests were sponsored by Sears of Buckhannon.

The Diaper Derby was separated into two age groups: birth to 12 months and 13-24 months. Parents, friends and relatives gathered at the finish line to encourage their toddlers to crawl toward them. The first to do so in the final race for the younger age group was 11-month-old Danny McDonald of Clarksburg.

McDonald was followed by second-place winner Johannah Hinkle, 12 months old, of Rock Cave, and third-place winner Zayden Poling, 12 months old, of Buckhannon.

In the 13-24 month category, Paxton Tenney of Buckhannon, 19 months old, crossed the finish line first, followed by Thomas Wilsoncroft in second and Gabrielle Hamlin in third.

The WVSF Headquarters also announced winners of a coloring and poster contest. Kindergarten winners are Zane Carr, in first place, Audrey Robinson in second, and Emma Quick in third. First grade winners are Nicholas Groves, first place, Aubreyanna Marety, second, and Hannah Robinson, third place.

Second grade winners include Kaitlyn Harris, first place, Jaden Marsh, second place, and Kyndal Davis in third place. Dani Horis was awarded an honorable mention. In third grade, Kyanna Depoy took first place, Bryce Cayton, second place, and Marin Griekspoor, third place. Honorable mentions included Desiree Sponaugle, Candence Vincent and Devin Wiant.

Fourth grade winners included Emma Pumphrey, in first place, Dylan Williams, in second, and Courtney Walton, in third. Fifth grade winners were Joshua O’Keefe, in first place, Trey Heatherly, in second place, and Emileigh Ryan in third place. Ariah Brown also won an honorable mention.

Contest winners of the West Virginia Strawberry Festival photography competition also were announced. An awards reception took place at the Upshur County Senior Center near the exhibit. Receiving the Kelley Best of Show was Alan Tucker for his photograph, “We Need More Sticks.”

The competition was broken down into five adult categories and two youth categories. The youth categories were open to anyone 19 or younger.

Austin Schimmel won first place in the youth “People” category for “Moto X.” In the same category, Ashley Hack was awarded second place for “Heart Breaker,” and Emily Simons took third place for “Papaw.” An honorable mention ribbon went to Lance Rayer for “Hike.”

In the youth category “Things or Places,” Heather Bragg was awarded first place for “An’tessa’pation,” and third place for “Eye Have a Chance.” Josh Marks won second for “Over Buckhannon River,” and Bragg also won an honorable mention ribbon for “Flying Colors,” as did Jared Bentley for “Slow and Steady,” and Rebekah Megamose for “Fish Face.”

In the adult category “Wild and Wonderful,” Michael Kirk won first place for “Intense Clouds,” Samuel Taylor won second place for “Tree Silhouette with Stars” and Charles Cropp won third place for “Almost Heaven.” Honorable mention awards went to Taylor for “Cheat View Overlook with Moon,” Conney Tenney for “Big Ears” and Joey Herron for “Winter Redbirds.”

In the adult “People” category, first place was awarded to Michael Kirk for “Anne in Flames,” second to Samuel Taylor for “Time to Head Home” and third to Willa Hebb for “Dakota Swingin’.” Honorable mentions went to Denis Hendrick for “Party Animal,” Dick Hepler for “Water, Water Everywhere” and Nancy Marks for “Veteran’s Day Parade Ride.”

The adult “Things or Places” category first place went to Sandra Miller with “Reflections of Old Glory,” second place to John Simons for “Sesquicentennial” and third place to Mark Buchanan for “Ohio River Valley.” Honorable mention ribbons were awarded to Julia Tenney for “Celebration” and James Knudsen for “Cross at St. Mary’s Retreat.”

First place in the “Nature” category went to Alan Tucker for “Cleared for Landing,” second place went to Joey Herron for “Creeper and Hummer” and third place went to Samuel Taylor for “Horseshoe Bend.” An honorable mention ribbon was awarded to Sandra Phillips for “Yellow/Gold Sunset.”

The monochrome category first place award went to Linda Treadway for “My Dearest John,” second place went to Alan Tucker for “Jackson’s Mill in Winter,” and third place went to Julia Conley for “Only Authorized Persons Allowed.” Honorable mention awards were given to Alan Tucker for “Cass Railroad” and James Knudsen for “Phantom Butterfly.”

And finally, the “Creative Expression” first place award was presented to John Simons for “Purple Night,” second place to Connie Tenney for “Head’s Up” and third place to Samuel Taylor for “Milky Way over Grand Teton.” An honorable mention ribbon was presented to Michael Kirk for “Chapel by Moonlight.”

The photos will remain on display from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. today and from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday at the Upshur County Senior Center. For those who can’t make it out to see the show, the winning photos will be featured in the Buckhannon Upshur Camera Club’s free newsletter. Find the Buckhannon Upshur Camera Club on Facebook or visit to find out how to sign up.