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Cool Autumn Outings

The Inter-Mountain photos by Shannon Bennett Campbell The Cass Tourist Train pulls into the station to bring excited travelers onboard.

As the “Back to School” bargains are beginning to dominate advertising, we all know autumn is knocking at our doors. Having had few breaks from summer showers, it might be a fitting time to plan a Mountain State Mini (a three-day West Virginia vacation) for sometime in the weeks ahead.

Fortunately, our state offers some great escapes for the entire family throughout the months preceding Thanksgiving. I am pleased to share some details to begin your considerations about visits that can be made during three-day weekends that the family will enjoy together before snows begin to blow.

Mid-August, with fields bursting of nature’s bounty, beckons a visit to the West Virginia State Fair at Lewisburg. Offered for10 days from Aug. 8 to 17, the variety of events never stop. There are horse shows, entertainers, carnival rides, games, exhibits and a tremendous variety of things to eat, from cinnamon rolls to home-cured ham sandwiches to ice creams galore.

While in Greenbrier County, its famous White Sulphur Springs resort can be a stop on your way home with an elegant lunch and shopping in their large variety of stores, or take Lewisburg Historic District strolls where several good eating places will find you.

Another event-filled weekend will occur surrounding Labor Day, when Clarksburg entertains the Italian Festival and Jackson’s Mill welcomes visitors to its annual Jubilee. Downtown Clarksburg is bursting with food vendors and almost any type of Italian dish is offered from lasagna to meatball subs to tortellini.

An ice cream freezer displays the usual selections at Drapers Restaurant in The Greenbrier.

Not to be outdone, the Jubilee cooks barbecue beef and chicken, stocks homemade cookies and ice cream and has its dining hall open for complete dinners. Of course, a major attraction is its large craft fair, and if you are looking to shop, especially for crafts, nearby Jane Lew has another event going where many additional exhibits can be found.

If this were not enough to fill your weekend, I hear the Mountaineers will be taking the football field Saturday, Aug. 31, so all events will occur within 75 Interstate miles.

Another venture that will appeal to many might be a quiet trip to Pocahontas County’s Watoga State Park, where late summer swimming can be done. Off Route 219 south, 12 miles from Marlinton, West Virginia’s largest state park will begin to add hillside color. Not far away, one can ride the rails at Cass and enjoy views. Children will have fun visiting the gift shop and the huge ice cream cones will receive a “WOW”-rating.

In late September, a trip to Kingwood can get you a stack of buckwheat cakes and maple syrup while visiting a very nice craft show and agricultural exhibits, along with two wonderful parades on Friday and Saturday afternoons at the Buckwheat Festival Sept. 27 and 28. If you like bands, these have plenty and guarantee an enjoyable visit.

As October rolls around, the lodges at Canaan Valley and Blackwater Falls State Parks welcome you. There is nothing quite like the forests set ablaze by autumn’s frosts and the multitude of colors one can experience. If planning is well-done the Forest Festival will be part of the itinerary, and parades, craft fairs and carnival food will consume your time.

The Buckwheat Festival Feature Parade welcomes a visit by the ‘Pride of West Virginia,’ the West Virginia University Marching Band.

One other autumn visit that could offer rest and comfort is a stay at Lewis County’s Stonewall Resort, especially for someone who likes golf, fishing and gazing over the lake during long walks.

Nearby Downtown Weston can provide side excursions for antique-buying and a look at the West Virginia Museum of American Glass, which features half a city block filled with beautiful vintage glass pieces.

For additional review of autumn’s available activities, a trip to the Welcome Center in Elkins’ Railroad Depot might be helpful. A large brochure display provides information about large numbers of travel, lodging and eating opportunities in this region.

As the seasons sometimes do not cooperate with our needs for changes in our daily routines, we have to make some corrections. Fortunately, we live in an area where this can be done with relative ease.

I, for one, am ready to say, “So long to summer and engage the cooler mornings and stunning sights with excitement and anticipation.” Hope your planning will begin, too. An extension of activity can only mean fun for the entire family, especially when it is amid our mountain beauty.