FRENCH CREEK - For the 36th year, French Creek Freddie, the state's official weather prognosticating groundhog, will be the star of the show on Sunday at the West Virginia Wildlife Center at French Creek in
Every Groundhog Day, Wildlife Center staff awaken the grumpy rodent and bring him out of his winter hibernation hole to look for his shadow and predict the severity of the remaining six weeks of winter.
Photo of French Creek Freddie provided by West Virginia Department of Commerce
Spend Groundhog Day with French Creek Freddie at the West Virginia State Wildlife Center Feb. 2 for the 36th anniversary celebration
He's usually right, and after making his forecast before an audience of hundreds, he happily returns to the warmth of his bed.
Rob Silvester, District 3 wildlife biologist, said, "Everyone is invited to join in the fun of Groundhog Day at the Wildlife Center and take a walking tour of the native wildlife on display."
He said festivities will begin in the amphitheater at 9:30 a.m. with guest Appalachian storytellers "Granny Sue" and Judi Tarowsky.
Wake up time for Freddie is 10 a.m.
The second annual Woodchuckin' Contest starts at 10:30 a.m.
Exhibitors in the gift shop will include a potter, The Sheepherders Association and a blacksmith. Hot chocolate and cookies will be available, and there will be activity sheets for the children to take home.
"Granny Sue's" storytelling takes audiences back to a time when stories were part of the fabric of every day, when parents told children tales from their past and children shared daily adventures. Her repertoire includes Appalachian programs, world folktales, family stories, ghost tales and participation stories.
She is a graduate of West Virginia State College and the University of South Carolina, and she is state liaison to the National Storytelling Network. She also is a member of the West Virginia Storytelling Guild and several regional storytelling and writing organizations, and she is a published writer.
She maintains an active online journal, Granny Sue's News and Reviews, and writes columns for two regional publications, Two-Lane Livin' and the Jackson View. She also maintains several blogs.
Judi Young Tarowsky graduated from West Virginia University with a bachelor's degree in journalism and has worked at The Intelligencer in Wheeling, The Herald-Star in Steubenville, Ohio, and The Wheeling News-Register.
She received a Graduate Certificate in Storytelling from the University of North Texas School Of Information Sciences. She has written articles for "Firehouse" magazine, "Gun World," and "Pittsburgh Magazine."
Tarowsky was an adjunct instructor at West Liberty State University in West Liberty, where she taught public relations writing and public speaking.
Her credits include winning "The Golden Shovel" as the first-place winner in the inaugural Annual Strand Theatre Story Telling Festival Adult Amateur Liars Contest in 2006, and winning "The Silver Shovel" as second-place winner in 2007.
Her work appears online at www.courses.unt.edu/efiga/SpinningYarns/index.htm presented by UNT.
Tarowsky writes and performs tall tales and presents original family recollection stories, historical pieces and fiction. Her work includes stories for children and adults.
The West Virginia Wildlife Center, a modern zoological facility displaying native and introduced wildlife, is operated by the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources Wildlife Resources Section. The center is dedicated to presenting a realistic and factual understanding of West Virginia's wildlife.
Woodland wildlife can be viewed along a wheelchair-accessible, 1.25-mile-long interpretive trail through a mature hardwood forest. Species at the facility include whitetail deer, black bear, wild turkey, and formerly native species that no longer live in the state, including elk, bison and mountain
The spacious enclosures allow the animals to interact with their environment and exhibit more natural behavior patterns.
Interpretive signs help visitors learn more about each animal's life history, biology and its relationship with humans.
The center is 12 miles south of Buckhannon on State Route 20. More information can be obtained by calling 304-924-6211 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays or by going online and visiting www.wvdnr.gov/wildlife/wildlifecenter.shtm.