Festivals, works of art from man and nature, fishing, horseback riding, and even ghosts present plenty of opportunities to get out and play for visitors traveling to the three north central West Virginia counties of Tucker, Upshur, and Lewis.
Nature is now closer in Tucker County
The Monongahela National Forest, Blackwater Falls and Canaan Valley state parks, and the surrounding communities hold many delights for visitors making the 2-1/2-hour drive from the Baltimore-Washington, D.C. area.
Jessica Scowcroft, who promotes the area, said traveling time has been cut by at least 30 minutes thanks to the new U.S. Route 48 four-lane highway.
ArtSpring, a High Mountain Arts Festival, takes place May 22–24, and features events throughout the Canaan Valley and historic towns of Davis, Thomas, and Parsons. Local art galleries participate with demonstrations from pottery making to wool spinning. There will be music, wine tasting, and local culinary delights to enjoy, too.
During the Canaan Valley Birding Festival, June 4–7 at the Canaan Valley Resort in Davis, bird lovers can be up close and personal with feathered friends.
The area has more than 125 species of birds to spot. The festival’s schedule includes half-day and all-day walks through Canaan Valley Resort State Park.
You can combine bird watching with wildflower observations during the 54th West Virginia Wildflower Pilgrimage, May 7–10 at nearby Blackwater Falls State Park. All tours leave from Blackwater Lodge.
The event attracts professional and amateur botanists who also enjoy special evening programs.
Upshur County fruit and barbecue
About a four- to five-hour drive from Baltimore and Washington, Upshur County is the home of Holly River State Park and the town of Buckhannon, host of the West Virginia Strawberry Festival, May 9–17.
“This is one of West Virginia’s oldest and largest festivals. It’s now in its 74th year,” said Laura Meadows, who promotes the area.
Meadows said the festival “bursts with energy,” featuring parades, strawberry exhibits, arts and crafts, a huge carnival, and all things strawberry to eat.
If barbecue is more your style, professional competitive barbecue teams from across the country come to Buckhannon, June 19–20, to compete in the West Virginia State BBQ Championship.
If you need to replace that worn-out quilt on your bed or want a piece of mountain craft history, join the Mountain Quilt Quest, or the West Virginia Quilters Shop Hop, July 22–25. Quilters scour the state of West Virginia on a Mountain Quilt Quest, leading them to quilt shops throughout the state.
Lewis County was home to Stonewall Jackson
At about the same distance from Baltimore and Washington, Lewis County puts on the Jackson’s Mill Jubilee Sept. 4–6 in Weston. “It’s an old-style heritage festival. There will be plenty of bluegrass music and great food,” said Chris Richards, who promotes the area.
“Jackson’s Mill is the site where Gen. Stonewall Jackson was raised,” said Debbie Garrett, president of the event.
The house no longer is there, but there are cabins and a mill.
All the artisans present must create their own products and there’s homemade ice cream and barbecue to enjoy. You’ll also see Civil War reenactors.
Part of the Mountain Lakes Region, Lewis County boasts the Stonewall Resort State Park with its five-star resort and large lake.
Appalachian Glass in Weston gives visitors the unique opportunity to watch glass blowers in action. Free demonstrations take place Mondays through Saturdays, 8:00am–2:00 pm.
Paranormal tours are available for a variety of price ranges and require a reservation.
Historical tours of the site are $10 a person and offered every day except Mondays, noon–6:00pm, and on Saturdays, 10:00am–6:00pm.
Once known as the Weston State Hospital, the asylum served as a sanctuary for the mentally ill in the mid-1800s. It’s a nationally recognized landmark.
As far as ghosts are concerned, the asylum’s Bethany Cutright said she has heard voices when no one else was around and had chills.
“One time I was working on a breaker and when I was finished I said out loud, ‘I wonder if that worked.’ I then heard a voice say, ‘Nope.’”
For more info:
Lewis Co. Tourism: mountainlakescvb
Tucker Co. Tourism: canaanvalley.org
Upshur Co. Tourism: visitbuckhannnon.org