The 74th Mountain State Forest Festival was off and running at full speed despite cold temperatures, gray skies and rain throughout the day on Monday.
Spirits weren't dampened as creatures great and small, furry and slimy captured the hearts of Maid Silvia Meredith Orndorff, her court and a gymnasium full of spectators Monday night during the annual Pet Show at Elkins High School. Throughout the show, pet owners proudly displayed their animals for the MSFF court. Maid Silvia, the maids of honor and minor court clamored for a chance to touch some of the pets and reacted according to the creatures cuteness or strangeness.
Taking home the Queen's Choice award was Sara Shoemaker with her pomeranian, Patches. Maid of Honor Sarah Talbott chose Buddy, a mixed breed dog owned by Morgan Talbott. Fellow Maid of Honor Ellyson Schumacher picked a Chinese crested powder puff named Zoey, owned by Amber Swisher.
Andrew Hart and pet guinea pig Fuzz Nuzz, second place winner in the smallest pet category.
Other winners of the Pet Show were: Owner - Pet Look Alike: first place, Skout Barger with Mocha, a standard poodle; second place, Alexis Ayers with a yorkie named Tootsie; and third place, Ani Reger with Toby, a dachshund/corgie. Most Fitting Name: first place, Kelsey Howell, with Rosco, a beagle; second place, Vicki Aucremanne with Feather, a westie/poodle/Chihuahua mix; and third place, Morgan Henrie with Blue Bear, a neopolitan mastiff. Most Obedient: first place, Richard Kuhn with Danger, a German shepherd; and second place, Trenton Cooper with Shadow, a mixed breed dog. Prettiest Cat: first place, Lakin Hitt and her tuxedo cat, Brother; second place, Nigel Price with Crystal, a calico; and third place, Brandon Gear with Duce, an orange tabby. Largest Dog: Terese Howell and Rebel, a boxer. Most Unusual: first place, Bailey Young with a sugar glider, Eddie; second place, Chris Tingler with Quillson, a hedge hog; and third place, Andrew Holbrook with his rooster, Lil' Red. Prettiest Dog: first place, Sara Shoemaker and Patches, a pomeranian; second place, Mason Kimbleton with a dachshund named Heidi; third place, Brendan Wallace and Sandy, a golden noodle. Best Tricks: first place, Morgan Talbott with Buddy, a mixed breed; second place, Kelsey Howell and Diesel, a boxer; and third place, Sunny Austin with Scooter-Dawg, a Chihuahua/terrier mix. Smallest Pet: first place, Bailey Young with a fish named Tiny; and second place, Andrew Hart with his Guinea pig, Fuzz Nuzz. Unique Costume: first place, Peyton Shields, with a bearded dragon named Frank; second place, Alysse Severino with Thunder, a jack russell; and third place, Jonah Johnson with his cat, Snoopy. Most Spots: first place, Ian Lindsey with Gunner, an English setter; and second place, Lisa Swecker with Charlotte, a beagle. Longest Tail, Chelsey Mowery with Scaler, an iguana. Obstacle Course: first place, Trenton Cooper, with Shadow, a mixed breed dog; second place, Amber Swisher with Zoey, a Chinese crested; and third place, Lexi Reger with Sugar, a dachshund/corgie mix.
Assistant MSFF Director Todd Riggleman said he was pleased with the great turnout and during the show was anxious to find out which pets Orndorff, Talbott and Schumacher would select.
"It's a nice place to be on a rainy evening," Riggleman commented.
A ROYAL extravaganza— Pickens School first-grader Maurice Mendenz, foreground, and second-grade student Chad Tiffner, at right, present Mountain State Forest Festival Maid Silvia LXXIV Meredith Rae Orndorff, second from left, with maple syrup and a 2010 yearbook from the school. Orndorff made the visit with Maids of Honor Sarah Talbott and Ellyson Schumacher.
Before the start of the Pet Show, Jonah Johnson, 6, and Kay Johnson explained their cat Snoopy, a Siamese mix, has been participating in the event for 14 years and over the years has received several awards. Jonah said his favorite MSFF event is the Pet Show.
Brandon Gear, 4, said he entered his 6-month-old orange tabby cat, Duce, in the show "because I love him." Duce competed in the Prettiest Cat category and took home third place. Gear also said his favorite MSFF event is the Pet Show.
Andrew Hart, 9, of Elkins kept his Guinea pig, Fuzz Nuzz, in a plastic bucket before the competition for Smallest Pet. Although Hart was having fun surrounded by animals, his favorite MSFF activity is the carnival.
Just across the hallway from the Pet Show was the MSFF Gospel Talent Show. Because of inclement weather, the Talent Show was moved from the Downtown Stage to EHS.
Thirteen contestants in three age divisions sang for a chance to return on Thursday night.
In the Adult Division, Evan Hedrick of Davis took top honors with The Mayle Family from Elkins coming in second. Victoria Straughan from Philippi place third.
In the Teen Division, Charleston resident Lindsey Paul took home first place, Jocelyn Stout of Mount Clare placed second and tying for third was Josiah Greaver from Clarksburg and Elkins resident Linsey McCollam.
Morgan McCollam from Elkins took home first place in the Children's Division, followed by Grafton resident Hillary Mayle who placed second and Gracie Metheny of Elkins taking third. The talent show continues tonight with the Variety Talent show at the downtown stage at 7 p.m.
Earlier in the day, Maid Silvia and her court toured area businesses and schools, receiving gifts at each stop.
While at the Kissel Stop on Third Street, Orndorff, Talbott and Schumacher sampled Silvia's Choice LXXIV. The special blend of coffee is flavored with chocolate and butter rum.
Orndorff and the maids received pottery from Davis Trust Co. and jewelry from "Mr. Forest Festival," John Zirbs.
The First United Methodist Church preschool gave Orndorff a crystal bracelet designed in an array of fall colors, while Schumacher and Talbott received stained glass leaves. All three gifts were made and contributed by a local artist.
Two stops at the Youth Health Center, one to visit the children's care center and the other the preschool saw Orndorff receive a pillar candle and a gift basket.
The court then traveled to the Pickens/Helvetia area where they visited Pickens School and had lunch at the Hutte.
Pickens School seniors Emily and Alexander Biggs led the party on a guided tour through the school. Following the tour, the students gathered in the gymnasium where Orndorff presented the student body with a signed copy of the 74th MSFF program.
"You all seem very close which is very important," Orndorff told the students.
Pickens students presented Orndorff with maple syrup and a 2010 yearbook, which shows photos of princess Maggie Jo Gain. Orndorff was given a Helvetia cookbook and pins at the Hutte.
Before departing the school, MSFF royalty took time to shake hands and speak with several students. Pickens School Principal Diane Betler said the students look forward to the visit from Maid Silvia.
"We look forward to Maid Silvia and her court visiting us," Betler said. "Many of them (the students) plan on going to the festival, and this is a perfect opportunity for them."
The entourage returned to Elkins and made stops at local nursing homes.
Orndorff received maple sugar candy and a set of leaf earrings and necklace from Nella's Central, and was given a leaf necklace, maple cookies and a gift basket at Nella's Inc. Maids Talbott and Schumacher received pillar candles and leaf dishes.
Orndorff, Schumacher and Talbott received Viva Bead bracelets from Third Street Trading Co. during their visit to Colonial Place.
Today, visits will take place at all of the schools inside and surrounding Elkins. The court will also make stops at Citizens Bank of West Virginia and the West Virginia Children's Home.
Mountain State Forest Festival events continue with the Senior Bazaar at the Randolph County Senior Center on Fifth Street from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
At 7 p.m. At 7 p.m. tonight, approximately 20 individuals will show their musical ability during the Variety Talent Show on the Downtown Stage in Elkins Town Square. The contestants will perform songs that are not classified as gospel or country.
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