Tucker County offers outdoor fun, from biking to birding

Roland Leiser

ArtSpring spotlights artists and artisans in Tucker County.

The final 6 miles of the four-lane highway into Davis, W.Va., should be completed this summer, cutting travel time even more for visitors from the Washington, D.C., and Baltimore area to Tucker County’s festivals and special events.

This eastern county in the Mountain State will be offering visitors enough bluegrass and other concerts, art exhibits, farmers markets, bird watching, cycling races, craft beer tastings, and hiking for wild flower viewing to suit most everyone’s tastes.

The Celebration of the Arts on July 3 is among the county’s biggest draws, attracting up to 1,500 people, according to the Tucker County Convention and Visitors Bureau. This year, the Wheeling Symphony Orchestra will perform at Canaan Valley Resort. Now in its 28th year, the event is heavily attended by both state residents and visitors from the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area. There is no admission charge.

ArtSpring spotlights artists and artisans in Tucker County.
ArtSpring spotlights artists and artisans in Tucker County.

So, what about if you’re not into orchestral music? How about some bluegrass? At the Five River Campground, the Pickin’ in Parsons Bluegrass Festival has scheduled 25 bands to perform Aug. 2–6.

Included in the lineup is the renowned Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver. Formerly with the Country Gentlemen group, Lawson was inducted into the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame in 2012 and is set to perform Aug. 5. Other scheduled musicians include The Gibson Brothers, Larry Cordle, The Bluegrass Brothers, and the Spinney Brothers.

Five-day advance tickets cost $75. For three days, Thursday through Saturday, tickets are $60. And, for a single-day attendance, tickets cost $35. Higher admission applies at the gate.

Many visitors will stay at campgrounds for the event, but hotels, cabins, and motels are available.


ArtSpring blends music and arts

Music is mixed into the 6-year-old ArtSpring festival, May 27–29, also known as A Tour of Tucker County Arts. Events over the Memorial Day weekend are scheduled in four towns:

“Live at the Opera House” in Thomas focuses on a silent auction of local art to raise money in support of creative activities and a tour of Cottrill’s Opera House, described as an “old, beautiful building” from the early 20th century. Also planned are film showings and street music.

16-05 Tucker BrewIn Davis, a farmers and artisans market will feature craft demonstrations, food vendors, student art, children’s activities, and opportunities to meet artists in person. Art galleries in both Davis and Thomas will be open to the public.

At Canaan Valley Resort, organizers will set up visits to Ben’s Old Loom Barn to see locals work on traditional weaving.

Parsons has concerts scheduled in the public park, and visitors will be encouraged to try their hand at painting river rocks.

There is no admission fee for the four-town event, but donations will be accepted. According to the festival coordinator, there will be a beer crawl for tasting local beers for $5.

To slake your thirst, also consider the West Virginia Craft Beer and Music Festival — known as Brew Skies — sponsored by the Mountain State Brewing Company, one of the state’s 14 breweries. It will be held at the Timberline Four Seasons Resort Aug. 19–21. The weekend pass is $48.24, including a service charge; Friday or Saturday admission is $32.49.


Saddle up

For a relaxing view of the Valley’s mountain scenery, check out Mountain Trail Rides, which operates two stables. Outfitter Kim Bennet also operates a Discovery Center at Blackwater Falls State Park that features hands-on activities with an agricultural them and a petting zoo.

“You see a lot more from the back of a horse and you don’t have to walk,” said Bennett. “We’re now also offering day trips into the legendary Dolly Sods area in cooperation with the U.S. Forest Service.”16-05 Tucker Wheeling


Other events

The Canaan Valley Birding Festival, May 30–June 2 in the Allegheny Highlands, takes bird watchers through forests and wetlands. Speakers will be available to brief both beginner and expert participants. As many as 23 species have been identified in previous festivals. Don’t forget binoculars, hiking shoes, a rain coat (just in case), sunscreen, water, and snacks.

The West Virginia Wildflower Pilgrimage is May 5–8 in Blackwater Falls State Park.

There are two bike events this month: The Blackwater Classic Mountain Bike Race in Davis on May 29 and the Canaan Mountain Bike Festival, May 16–19 at Canaan Valley Resort State Park. The latter offers a ladies’ day clinic, guided group rides, and a raffle and party to benefit local trails.


Learn more:

Tucker Co. Tourism: canaanvalley.org

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