Thursday began with the happy sound of children's laughter coming from Elkins City Park as Randolph County students celebrated Kids Day at the 77th Mountain State Forest Festival.
Students gathered to learn about the the natural resources and forests surrounding Elkins. Randolph County Superintendent of Schools Terry George strolled through the park Thursday with the children.
"At any time today, there are approximately 1,100 Randolph County school children total in the park," George said. "I enjoyed talking to the staff and kids and watching them participate in the many educational activities. I appreciate the support our students received. Festival staff have done a great job setting up this event."
Kids Day events include Hot Dog Pig Racing, the barnyard petting zoo, a fun-time train, a conservation village, a chainsaw carver, shingle cutting and branding, glass blowing, face-painting and many other activities.
Hunter Harman, a fourth-grade student at North Elementary School, said he was having a great time at Kids Day.
"I really liked the magic show and the twisted balloon," Harman said. "My favorite part of the Festival is the carnival. I like to ride the squirrel cages."
Craftsman Jerry Allen, from Lost Creek, was in Elkins City Park for Kid's Day and will be there throughout the weekend.
"I started coming to the festival and woodburning shingles in 1995," Allen said. "In the beginning, it was just me and one or two other attractions. Now it has grown and offers tons of activities for Festival participants."
Mountain State Forest Festival Assistant Director Robin Miller said she thought Kids Day was a great success.
"It turned out really good," Miller said. "We could not have asked for a better day for this event. We had a few holes in the groups setting up, but they called to let us know they would not be coming - and they will be back with us next year."
Kids Day is sponsored by Shop N Save Express, Mike Ross Inc., Wendy's, Randolph County Schools and Roy's RV Super Center.
Many craft and art exhibits will remain open today.
The Randolph County Senior Bazaar, located at the Randolph County Senior Center on 5th Street in Elkins, offers seniors a comfortable setting where they can sell their beautifully crafted items. Sellers offer wooden bowls, quilts, jewelry, decorations, dolls, apple butter, crocheted and knitted items and home-made foods and sweets. The bazaar will be open today until 3 p.m.
The Food & Craft Fair, sponsored by Dolores Magoc of Sewing for the Season, will continue today through Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday from 1 to 6 p.m., at the Seneca Mall in Elkins. Crafters and food vendors feature many offerings including homemade jewelry, local honey, fudge, quilts, decorations and free kittens.
"I am happy to sponsor the Food & Craft Fair," Magoc said. "Vendors still looking for space to set up can call me at 304-704-3753.
The GFWC Woman's Club of Elkins Arts and Craft Show will be open today at the Memorial Gymnasium on the campus of Davis & Elkins College. Marijane Kiley, chairperson for the event, said the event is well-attended.
"We have more than 70 crafters this year, almost the largest amount we have ever featured," Kiley said. "The show is the club's only big fundraiser. Every penny we raise goes right back into the community."
Kiley said the GFWC Woman's Club of Elkins supports many worthwhile causes in the community.
"We sponsor at least four scholarships for area high school seniors each year," Kiley said. "We also plant and maintain the flowers at the triangle across from McDonalds, sponsor scholarships to conservation camp, sponsor campers at Camp Kno-Koma for diabetic children, prepare shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Child, serve food at the Common Ground Cafe and help with Womens Aid In Crisis and other domestic violence causes.
"We also support Randolph County Relay for Life, work with Davis Health System's Women's Health Day, assist with blood drives at the First United Methodist Church and prepare care bags for those staying at the Davis House."
Kiley said the show had several new crafters and lots that have been coming for years.
"We hope everyone will come out and enjoy the show," Kiley said.
The Arts and Craft Show is open today and Saturday until 7 p.m.
The Crafts and More craft show at the First United Methodist Church will also be open today and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. The public is urged to stop in at both shows and check out all the goodies both have to offer.
A photography exhibit and contest is on display at the Elkins-Randolph County YMCA.
"I really enjoy the nature ones that give a Forest Festival feel" said Karen Tallman of Elkins, who was taking in the exhibit with her sister, Paula Lanham.
The photography exhibit will be open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. today and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday.
The Mountain Weavers Guild is offering free demonstrations downstairs of the Elkins-Randolph County Public Library.
Susan Howell from Grafton and others will offer spinning demos, and John Terry will show off his wool creations. Included in the display are two spinning wheels from the historic Chenoweth house in Beverly.
The public can enter the side door of the library and go downstairs to see these demonstrations and more from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. today and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday.
The Forestry and Wood Products exhibit is located at the Elkins VFW, featuring numerous locally grown Christmas trees and wreaths. The public can vote on their favorite trees and wreaths.
The exhibit will be open at the VFW from 9 a.m to 9 p.m. today and from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday.
After a gospel talent show on Monday, a variety talent show on Tuesday and a country talent show on Wednesday, the winners all headed to a full-on competition on Thursday night. The MSFF Talent Show Finals on the Downtown State pitted all genres against each other. Only three grand prize winners would be named, one for each age group.
After a performance by each competitor, the judges kept the audience in suspense as they deliberated for more than 30 minutes. When the judges emerged they announced Madison Hukill as the Grand Prize child class winner, J.W. McGaham as the Grand Prize teen class winner and Ashley Coley as the Grand Prize adult class winner.