One glance around town and it is easy to see that, in Elkins, spring cleaning happens out of season. Our annual spruce-up occurs in the fall - because that is when the Mountain State Forest Festival helps our area take center stage in West Virginia.
Thousands attend the festival each year, and it is important for the community to make a great impression as we receive statewide recognition. That is why it is refreshing to see so many improvement projects under way in preparation for the big event.
The Randolph County Development Authority, city of Elkins, local business leaders and Forest Festival volunteers and staff all are busy preparing for the 76th event. New signs are being installed. Buildings are being painted. Paving is being done to key roadways, and the town is being readied to look its very best.
While some locals don't look forward to Forest Festival - or all that comes with it - it is a tradition that brings distinction to this area. The event is the largest and oldest festival in the state.
The festival's website, www.forestfestival.com, offers the following about the historic event, calling it a major homecoming for individuals who previously lived in the Elkins area:
"It's also a time when first-time visitors, young and old alike, come to the area to participate in the many festival events and activities.
"This year's celebration will mark a significant milestone in the history of the festival association and will once again afford us the opportunity to share with our community and state the important role West Virginia's natural resources play in our economic development.
"Rich in tradition, the festival also plays a major role in our local and state economy and offers something for everyone to enjoy, such as, the carnival, parades, exhibits, arts and crafts, delicious food and, of course, the royal court and coronation of Queen Silvia."
We couldn't agree more, and we encourage those in the community to get in the festival spirit. Private individuals, like businesses, also may decide to spruce things up a bit in time for the many festivities that are on tap in the coming days. Whether it is clearing debris from a yard or adding some fall flowers to a window box, it is encouraging when residents take pride in this community and all it - and the festival - has to offer.
Sometimes we don't realize how blessed we are to have an event such as the Forest Festival to call our own. So, as we deal with the increased traffic, noise and other festival-related effects, let's try to remember to see it, and our community, through the eyes of a first-time visitor. Like the splendor of the fall leaves as they turn a majestic color, may this region shine during our moment in the spotlight.