Previewing Fall Festivals in Nature’s Mountain Playground

Mike Moore

Here in Pocahontas County, you can sense a change in the air.  Our warm days are just beginning to give way to cooler evenings, creating all the telltale signs of seasonal change.  Morning fog lays heavy in the valleys and seems to take a little longer each day to burn off.  The rising sun reveals dew-ladened spiderwebs meticulously spun and carefully suspended among the trees and fence rows that line our country roads.  There’s little doubt fall is on the way.  The autumn season has always had a kind of “homecoming feel” to me.  After a busy summer of traveling here and there and hopefully having the opportunity to visit different places and meet new people, fall seems to be the time of year we settle back into our home-life routine.  Once again, we find ourselves bustling the kids out the door to school as we try to get ourselves ready for the day.  Our attention turns to the matters of family and home.  It seems to be a time of year that we reconnect with friends, neighbors, and our hometown.  And one of the best ways to reconnect, especially on that community level, is a good old fashion autumn harvest festival – a celebration of the anticipated fall foliage and all the fun this time of years brings.  What better excuse for all of us to come together and celebrate after a hectic summer? 

Of all the annual festivals in West Virginia, fall weekend festivals probably top the list.  Whether it’s street festivals, autumn harvest cooking competitions, or wondering through pumpkin patches in search of the perfect candidate for your Halloween jack-o’-lantern, family-friendly festivals and autumn events seem to go hand in hand.  Here in Nature’s Mountain Playground, we are honored to host some of the best fall events in West Virginia and we’d love for you to join us.  So, if all this talk of fall foliage and hometown fun has you asking, “Gee whiz, I wonder if there’s any fall festivals near me?”, take heart dear reader, we at Nature’s Mountain Playground have your back.  Here’s a quick preview of fall festivals and family fun in Pocahontas County.

Autumn Harvest Festival and Roadkill Cook-off

Roadkill Cook-off Kinsey B Photography

Of all the Pocahontas County, West Virginia, annual festivals this is the most anticipate event of the year.  Slated for September 23 and 24 of 2022, the Autumn Harvest Festival and Roadkill Cook-off has drawn crowds to the town of Marlinton for over 30 years.  Come join us for live music, pageant winners, a biscuit bake-off, and plenty of arts and crafts.  And be sure to stick around for day two, Saturday, September 24, for the Roadkill Cook-off.  Although the event’s title is tongue-in-cheek, make no mistake, this is a serious, but fun-hearted cook-off.  The event has been covered by the Discovery Channel, the Food Network, and the Travel Channel!  If you’ve ever wanted to sample quality dishes with questionable names this is the event for you.

Cranberry Shindig

Join the good folks of the Cranberry Mountain Nature Center at 10:00 a.m., September 25, as they kick off their 35th annual Cranberry Shindig.  This day-long celebration of our Appalachian culture is a classic way to welcome fall to the mountains of Pocahontas County.  The event will highlight traditional artisans and feature demonstrations of blacksmithing, clogging, and mountain music brought to you by The Bing Brothers and Jake Krack.  Be sure to toss your lawn chair and a picnic lunch in the car and plan on spending the day with us.  And if your lunch turns out to be a little too light, you can always take advantage of the apple cider, maple syrup, jellies, fudge, and other delicious food for sale, as well as woodworking and hand-crafted items from a variety of artisans.

Huntersville Traditions Days and Bicentennial Celebration   

Wagon Ride at Huntersville Traditions Day

If you’re looking to immerse yourself in a community-wide, weekend-long celebration of mountain culture, you’ve got to check out Huntersville Traditions Day running from September 29 through October 2, 2022.  This highly anticipated annual event kicks off innocently enough Thursday, September 29, with tours of the Huntersville school, jail, and Civil War cemetery from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., but hold onto your hat for the next two days!  Friday, September 30, and Saturday, October 1, the entire town of Huntersville is transported back in time.  With the cool autumn air and surrounding mountains as your setting, both days will feature tours of the town, traditional foods of all kinds, live music, wagon rides, old-time demonstrations, ghost stories and more.  Visit a Civil War encampment or enjoy a blacksmithing demonstration.  Take in a quilt display while enjoying some cider or hot soup cooked over an open fire before you get the kids over to the petting zoo and then on to the ice cream making.  This event has just about everything you could want to see, smell, taste and experience from Civil War era West Virginia and so much more.  And to sweeten the deal this year, you’re invited to join us as we cap off a nearly year-long celebration of Pocahontas County’s 200th birthday.  As part of the Huntersville Traditional Days event, come join us at the Huntersville Court House Square at 5:30 p.m. for a slice of birthday cake.  Help us celebrate as we say happy birthday to the county we love to live in and share with others.  Finally, the big event winds down Sunday, October 2, 2022, with a town tour and light refreshments at 1:00 p.m.  The Huntersville Traditions Days is a classic autumn festival you don’t want to miss.

Greenbrier River Trail Marathon

Greenbrier River Trail Marathon

Well, we’ve covered three big fall festivals here in Nature’s Mountain Playground and in case you missed it, there’s been one connecting thread among them all – food!  Delicious, savory, sweet, questionably titled, you name it, and we’ve probably got it.  Now I’m all for delicious food (just ask my cardiologist), but I don’t want to be so single-minded that I might fail to mention there are indeed a couple other ways of celebrating fall in Pocahontas County.  I’m talking about marathons.  That’s right, getting out in the crisp autumn air and enjoying the changing season while doing something beneficial for your body.  There’s the firing gun.  Let’s take a look.

We’ll begin with the Greenbrier River Trail Marathon.  This is the real deal.  A full 26.2 marathon on the beautiful and scenic Greenbrier River Trail (and in autumn you can dial that beauty and scenic vibe up to ten).  This point-to-point marathon is scheduled for October 2, 2022, and will start at Cass moving south, down the Greenbrier River Trail to Stillwell Park in Marlinton.  And for those of you not yet up to marathon-level runs, you have the option of a half-marathon the same day.  The half-marathon, an out-and-back course, will start at Stillwell Park in Marlinton and head south on the Greenbrier River Trail to a turnaround point at 6.55 miles and finish at Stillwell Park completing the 13.1mile run.  The full marathon is a USATF-Certified course while the half-marathon is not certified.  You can register here for either race.

Greenbank Turkey Trot

Here’s one for the whole family and what a great way to make room for those Thanksgiving Day leftovers.  November 26, 2022, the Greenbank Observatory will host the Greenbank Turkey Trot.  The event includes a traditional 5K run/walk, a 10K trail run, and the 1K “Gobble Wobble” for kids 8 and under.  Runners, walkers, and wobblers can contact the Greenbank Observatory for more information. 

Well, that’s a quick preview of some of the best fall festivities in Nature’s Mountain Playground (and we didn’t even get to pumpkin patches and corn mazes).  When it comes to West Virginia festivals that celebrate autumn, we like to think Pocahontas County has some of the best.  But, no matter how you choose to celebrate fall this year, we hope you’re surrounded with family, friends, and a community that cares for you as much as you care for them.  Like I said, fall feels all about settling in and reconnecting.  We hope you’ll do some of that reconnecting here in Nature’s Mountain Playground.