Mother Nature officially and loudly announced the arrival of Forest Festival week last weekend with a nice blast of cold temperatures and a quick coat of paint on the leaves. That combination has sent photographers in the area scurrying to photograph the changing colors.
I'm trying to squeeze out a few minutes to write this column in the middle of all the activities that surround the Forest Festival and it's not easy. As the official photographer of the Mountain State Forest Festival, I get to follow the royal court around all week and attend every activity humanly possible. The pictures I take are used for a number of reasons. They are used in numerous advertising mediums including websites, posters, billboards and the official program. They are used for people who participate in the events to enjoy and they are used for documentary and historical purposes.
Speaking of historical, you might want to pick up a copy of this month's Goldenseal magazine since it has a nice article on the history of the festival and coincidentally a nice cover photo of Megan Hartley, the first Forest Festival Queen Silvia I photographed 17 years ago.
My job is big, and for me a lot of fun, but I'm certainly not the only one working hard this week. Elkins has turned into a big city for the last week and all of that didn't happen overnight. A small army of dedicated volunteers have been working feverishly to put all the events that most people take for granted into place for the public's enjoyment. This week has been especially hard for them with the bad weather earlier in the week, and the change of venue for some of the entertainment; and who was the wise guy that scheduled an election in the middle of our festival?
The president of the Forest Festival, the board of directors, director general, the assistants and all the numerous volunteers who don't get the "pleasure" of wearing a red jacket deserve a huge thank you for trying to do their best to make your Forest Festival a success. These folks put together an event that gives us all something to do if we choose, and they are the ones behind making the festival important enough for your old friends and family to make the trip back to Elkins year after year.
When you go through your family album I'm willing to bet almost every one of you has pictures that were taken during or as a result of Forest Festival. It's just that important.
I also would like to say congratulations to the awesome Queen Silvia LXXV Logan Burke. The picture accompanying this article was taken during a lighter moment when we were making her formal gown portraits. Have a great time, enjoy a corndog and some cotton candy, and be sure to take lots of pictures.
(Brent Kepner is the owner and photographer at Foto 1 Pro Photo in Elkins. He is a Master Photographer, Certified Professional Photographer and past president of the Professional Photographers of West Virginia.)