West Virginia: Wild, wonderful, and weird?

Bonnie Williamson

“Wild, Wonderful, and Weird” is not exactly West Virginia’s state slogan, but Laura Gassler, who promotes the Martinsburg area, may think it’s appropriate as Berkeley County hosts the first ODDfest, June 27–28.

An eclectic assortment of events are in store for visitors who make the two- to three-hour drive from the Baltimore and Washington, D.C., areas to Berkeley County.

Martinsburg BellBoydHouse“Activities will be taking place all over the county,” Gassler said. “We want people to spend the whole weekend here. The fun part is what one person thinks is weird, someone else may think is wonderful. A bridal show may be wonderful, or someone may think it’s weird. Seeing a full-bodied tattooed person may be weird, or wonderful.”

The idea for ODDfest came after Gassler approached author Jeanne Mozier, of Berkeley Springs, to do a book signing. Mozier’s Way Out in West Virginia, released in 2013, is referred to as a guide to the oddities and wonders of the Mountain State.

“I approached different businesses in the area and ODDfest came to be,” Gassler said. “ODDfest is two solid days of events. There is something for everybody.” And, Mozier will be a part of the action, signing books at the Belle Boyd House, 126 E. Race St. in Martinsburg, the one-time home of a notorious Confederate spy.

Also participating in ODDfest is Mel’s Smells, a candle shop located at 123 N. Queen St., Martinsburg. On June 27 only, 10:00am–4:00pm, Mel’s Smells is running a guessing game, “What’s That Smell?” The participant who guesses all scents correctly will win a prize.

Learn about survival skills and ghosts

Survival skills will be taught at the North American Bushcraft School in Hedgesville all weekend. From 9:00–11:30am, visitors will learn about edible, medicinal, useful, and poisonous plants and go on a plant walk. A fire and fiber class will be taught from 1:00–4:30pm. Attendees will learn how to make fire without a lighter or matches. This class is $5 for adults and free for those 12 and younger.

A ghost walking tour of Martinsburg’s historic downtown district begins at 9:00pm at a cost of $12 per person. The tour is not recommended for children under 13. Participants may even catch a glimpse of Belle Boyd, that infamous Confederate spy.

Visitors will have the opportunity to walk in the field and see thousands of daylilies at Hillbilly Daylilies in Bunker Hill from 9:00am–5:00pm. Taylor’s Farm Market in Inwood will feature West Virginia wine tastings for those 21 and older from 9:00am–5:00pm.

And, the Martinsburg-Berkeley County Public Library, 101 West King St. in Martinsburg, will display weird, wild, and wonderful medical and other artifacts gathered from around the country.

Gassler said there are activities for all ages at ODDfest, with more than 15 businesses taking part.

For children, there is the Wonderment Puppet Theater and For the Kids, By George Children’s Museum, both in Martinsburg.

She also noted that the area’s third geocaching trail, called Mystery Caches of Berkeley County, will be launched during the ODDfest weekend.

“We’ll have our Martinsburg-Berkeley County free, comprehensive mobile app, ‘Visit Martinsburg, WV,’ available for iOS and Android, so people can find all of the ODDfest events. Visitors can pick ‘EAT,’ ‘STAY,’ ‘PLAY,’ or ‘EVENTS’ and find the information they need,” Gassler said.

See for yourself whether the state’s slogan needs to be changed.

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