BUCKHANNON - The West Virginia Strawberry Festival in Buckhannon will kick off Saturday with a host of public events.
The opening ceremonies will begin at noon in Jawbone Park on Spring Street in Buckhannon. Upshur County Commission President J.C. Raffety said he will be giving a short commentary during the ceremonies, and the Festival Flame will be lit.
"I would hope that folks come and enjoy the festival," Carol Long, WVSF executive board member and past president, said. "There's something for everybody. A lot of it is free to the public. The only thing they would have to pay for would be anything they would buy food-wise, things for the CEOS Clubs. All the entertainment is free."
The West Virginia Strawberry Festival will kick off Saturday in Buckhannon. (The Inter-Mountain photo by Melissa Toothman)
Although the opening ceremonies begin at noon, food offered by the local CEO Clubs and musical performances will help fill Main Street with entertainment as guests arrive for the ceremony.
Pony and horse and carriage rides will be available near Jawbone Park on Spring Street for a donation. The pony and carriage rides, and other similar events throughout the day, give the festival's first day a western flare, Long said.
Continuing with the western theme, Shadow Lane Montag, a trick rider, will be performing at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. in a field behind the Buckhannon Fire Department and across from the 88 Restaurant and Lounge.
Later at 4 p.m., the West Virginia Strawberry Festival Horse and Carriage Parade will trot down Strawberry Lane. It will mark the first in a series of parades to take place throughout the festival. The parade is sponsored by Mike Ross Inc. and Ike Morris with Waco Oil and Gas.
"It's a new event," Long said. "It just so happened that it's worked out nicely for us to have some kind of western flair to lead into the festival... It's just a way of sort of giving us a good send-off for the rest of the week."
The last scheduled event for the evening includes the official coronation of the Strawberry King and Queen elects at 7 p.m. at Chapel Hill United Methodist Church, followed by a reception downstairs in Engle Hall. It's an earlier coronation than usual for the Festival, Long said.
"That just gives a longer reign for our royalty," Long said.
An information headquarters also will be located at the West Virginia Strawberry Festival office on Main Street starting Saturday.
The festivities continue on Mother's Day Sunday with an invitation to attend any choice of the county's many local churches from about 8 a.m. to noon. At 1 p.m., guests can treat themselves and their mothers to a Horse Pull at Bennett Farm.
Festivities kick off Monday with a quilt show at the Rockefeller Gym from noon to 4 p.m. The Gambill Amusements Carnival rides also begin from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. in downtown Buckhannon.
For a more detailed schedule of events, visit www.wvstrawberryfestival.com.