Mountain State Forest Festival Director General Mike Karlen has announced the appointment of the deputy director general and the slate of assistant directors for the 76th Mountain State Forest Festival.
Coordinating this year's festival will be Queen's Department Director Lydia Jones and Assistant Directors Tamara Bailey, Gary Hart, Felicia Hendon, Rich Nida, Jennifer Parker, Amy Parsons, Todd Riggleman, William V. "Bill" Ross, Amy Schumacher, Ben Shaffer, Chad Shoemaker and Gary Wileman.
Katrina "Cricket" Leary has been named as the deputy director general after serving as an assistant director for three years. Leary previously assisted with the Distinguished Guest Dinner, Queen's Ball, Parade of Children and Cabaret committees. Leary is employed at Davis Memorial Hospital. She and her husband, Don, are the parents of two children, Brian and Sydney, who was a flower girl in 2007.
Assistant directors for the 76th Mountain State Forest Festival are, from left, seated, Amy Parsons, Felicia Hendon, Katrina ‘Cricket’ Leary, Director General Mike Karlen, Director of the Queen’s Department Lydia Jones, Amy Schumacher and Tamara Bailey; standing, Gary Hart, Gary Wileman, Bill Ross, Rich Nida, Todd Riggleman, Chad Shoemaker, Ben Shaffer and Jennifer Parker. The group organizes the more than 100 events planned for this year’s festival, which will take place Sept. 29 to Oct. 7.
She attends St. Brendan Catholic Church and is a member of the Elkins Chapter of the American Academy of Professional Coders. Leary will coordinate the opening and closing ceremonies and security, and will work closely with Karlen to assist in the coordination of nearly 100 events.
Jones will return for her second year as the Queen's Department director, having previously served two years as an assistant on the Queen's Department, princess parade drop-off and invitation committees. She also helped with coronation music from 2005 to 2008.
Jones serves on the United Way of Randolph County board, attends First United Methodist Church and is a member of their Conway Ringers Bell Choir. She is an office manager for Perfection Plus Turbo-Dry LLC. Jones served as a princess in the 2003 Forest Festival. Her brother, Cory Wagner, was a train bearer in the 1988 Forest Festival.
Bailey will serve as an assistant director for her third year. She and her husband, Jason, are the parents of two daughters, Kyatt and Darby, and one son, Derek. Kyatt served as Woodly the Elf in 2009.
Bailey, a former James Madison and W.E.B. Du bois Fellow, is working on her doctorate degree in history at West Virginia University. She attends First United Methodist Church and serves on the Parental Advisory Board at Montessori.
She has served on a number of local boards and committees including the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service at West Virginia Wesleyan College, the North Elementary School Local School Improvement Council and Girl Scouts. Additionally, she is coaching Seneca Soccer for her sixth year. Bailey will coordinate the Grand Feature Parade, Kids Day at the Festival, Pardi Gras and the schedule of events.
Hart will serve his first year as an assistant director. He and his wife, Melinda, have two children, Nicklaus and Jordan. He serves on the board of directors for Elkins Little League and is a member of the Elks BPOE Lodge 1135. He has worked on the talent contest committee for several years and enjoys volunteering his time to coach baseball and softball. He attends The Alliance Church in Gilman.
Hart will coordinate the Forestry and Wood Products Show, golf tournament, horseshoe tournament, lumberjack competition and pet show.
Hendon will serve her second year as an assistant director. She and her husband, Bobby Hendon Jr., have three children, Haylee Bennett, who served as flower girl in 2007; stepdaughter Lori Flynn of Ellamore; and stepson Shannon Hendon of St. Petersburg, Fla.
Hendon is employed at the Tygart Valley Regional Jail as an office assistant. She is an active member of St. Patrick's Catholic Church in Coalton and serves on the committee of the Miss Coalton Days Pageant. She was a princess in 1982 and previously assisted with the symphony, windows, princess housing, princess orientation, Distinguished Guest Dinner, Queen's Ball, Cabaret, decorations for armory, information booth and the photography contest.
Hendon will coordinate the Distinguished Guest Dinner and the Queen's Ball, as well as decorate Davis & Elkins College's McDonnell Center for the Festival events.
Nida will serve his second year as an assistant director. A sales, parts and service director at Performance Motors, he and his wife, Marsha, are the parents of two daughters, Ashley and Megan.
Nida in active with Elkins Babe Ruth, Elkins Little League, Elkins Middle School Boosters and Elks Lodge No. 1135. He helped raise money and helped build the softball field at the EMS.
In the past, Nida has served on committees for the Grand Feature Parade, Band Field Show and the Parade of Children. He has provided official vehicles from his family business, Mountaineer Motor Sales, for more than 30 years.
Nida and his family have a rich tradition of Forest Festival involvement. His daughter Megan was a flower girl in 2001. Other family members include Emily Davis, flower girl in 2005; Kathyen Higbee, maid of honor in1993; Shawna Nida Davis, a flower girl in 1982; Steven Nida, a train bearer in1973; Allison Nida, a flower girl in 2004; and Makayla Gions, a flower girl in the 75th Forest Festival.
He will coordinate the Grand Feature Parade, vehicles, Bass Tournament and communications.
Parker is returning as an assistant director for her fifth year. She and her husband, Michael, have experience volunteering for the festival. She was a princess in 1999, and her brother, Brandon Robinson, was train bearer in 1992.
She has worked with the Band Field Show and publicity. Parker is employed as a substitute teacher for Randolph County Schools. She serves on the board of directors of the Randolph-Tucker County Child Advocacy Center and is a member of the General Federation of Women's Clubs - Elkins Woman's Club.
Parker will coordinate the Band Field Show, Distinguished Guest Dinner, Queen's Ball and publicity.
Parsons, who was a princess in 1992, will serve in her second year as an assistant director. She has been the office manager and associate agent for Bialek Insurance for almost 20 years, and she is a member of the First Baptist Church. She and her husband, John, are the parents of one daughter, Grace.
She served as an assistant to the Queen's Department in 2004 and 2005, and on committees for the hospitality tent, symphony, Parade of Children, windows and ROTC escorts. She also has created and provided the coronation pillow for the past 19 years.
Parsons and her family have a long history of involvement with the Forest Festival. Her mother, Karen Bialek, was an assistant director from 1994 to 2000 and was director general in 2001. Her brother, J.B. Bialek, was a train bearer in 1990; sister, Ashley Bialek-Flanagan, was maid of honor in 2004; and daughter, Grace Parsons, was the royal crown bearer in the 75th Forest Festival.
Parsons is a member of the Beta Sigma Phi Sorority. She helps with the Randolph County Senior Christmas Dinner, enters the 4-H/CEO Quilt contest and helps with the Randolph County Support Group and Relay For Life. She will coordinate the crafts and more, Get Acquainted Party, publicity, hospitality tents and window displays.
Riggleman will serve as an assistant director for his fourth year. A forester at Mon Power, he and his wife, Robin, are the parents of two sons, Garrett and Kyle.
Riggleman attends Woodford Memorial United Methodist Church, is a Little League baseball coach and a past assistant Webelos leader. His sister, Kelly Gilbert, served as a royal jester in the 1981 Forest Festival, while his son, Kyle, served as a train bearer in the 2009 Forest Festival.
He will coordinate the banners, information booth, Fireman's Parade, lumberjack competition and sanitation.
Ross will serve his first year as an assistant director. He is employed with Mountaineer Gas Co. He and his wife, Kim, have one daughter, Tayler. Kim Ross will be a first-year assistant in the Queen's Department, and their daughter was a flower girl in 2000 and maid of honor in the 75th Forest Festival.
He attends St. Patrick Catholic Church in Coalton and is a member of the Lodge 55 Masons AF&AM and the Lodge 66 of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. He will coordinate the Band Field Show, Irish Road Bowling, jousting, primitive campers and tennis.
Schumacher will return as an assistant director for her eighth year. She and her husband, Steve, are the parents of three children, Ryne, Elly and Read. She is a sales manager for Coldwell Banker Home Town Realty and director of the WV Association of Realtors.
She serves on the board of directors of the Elkins Rotary and is vice president of the Elkins-Randolph County Chamber of Commerce. She attends the First United Methodist Church, and serves as a volunteer for Meals on Wheels and is a member of the Midland Elementary School PTA.
Schumacher and her family have a rich tradition of Forest Festival involvement. She served as crown bearer of the 1967 Forest Festival, while her daughter, Elly, served as a flower girl in 2000 and maid of honor in 2010. Her grandmother, Beulah "Bid" Talbott, served as the Queen's Department director in 1957 and 1959, and her mother, Molly Busch, was director general for the 1992 Forest Festival.
Schumacher will coordinate the Downtown Stage, Parade of Children, chicken wing cookoff and photography.
Shaffer, will serve as an assistant director for his fourth year. He is employed as a regional program manager for the West Virginia Division of Highways and is the president of MR2 Environmental Solutions Inc. He is treasurer of the Elkins Kiwanis Club and secretary for Elkins Elks Babe Ruth League.
Shaffer and his wife, Lisa, have previous experience volunteering for the festival. He will coordinate the events and activities in Elkins City Park, geocaching, cross country meets, music show and 10K run/walk.
Shoemaker will serve his first year as an assistant director. He and his wife, Christie, maid of honor in the 1994 festival, are the parents of the two daughters, Sara, who was a flower girl in 2011, and Sophia.
Shoemaker is a co-owner of Elkins Physical Therapy & Sports Injury Clinic. He attends the First Baptist Church of Elkins, and serves as a volunteer for Relay For Life as a team captain, mentor for Elkins High School Senior Project, Diversified Co-Op Training and DCT program sponsor/advisor for the Randolph County Technical Center.
He will coordinate the Band Field Show, Seneca Trail Arts Guild, sound, Strong Man Contest and vendors.
An assistant director for his fourth year, Cpl. Gary Wileman is a correction officer at Huttonsville Correctional Center. He and his wife, Melissa, are the parents of three daughters, Lynnlee, Mackenzie and Madison. He is a member of the Randolph County Convention and Visitors Bureau board of directors and has served as chairman of the Ramp Festival.
With previous experience volunteering for the festival, Wileman will coordinate the grounds, Grand Feature Parade, Poker Run, Parade of Children and ATV event.
The 76th Mountain State Forest Festival will be celebrated in Elkins from Sept. 29 to Oct. 7. More information is available at www.forestfestival.com or 304-636-1824.