ELKINS, W.Va. (WBOY) — The nine-day-long Mountain State Forest Festival kicked off last Saturday and as part of the event, the festival’s Maid Silvia, Maids of Honor and the rest of the Royal Court are visiting schools throughout Randolph County to talk with local students.

On Tuesday, the Royal Court took a break from their tour to participate in a luncheon held in their honor at the Graceland Inn on the campus of Davis & Elkins College.

“It’s an opportunity for some fellowship with their families, and just a good opportunity to get together and take time and recognize what they’re doing, and just really enjoy each other,” Ben Shaffer, the Board of Directors President for the festival said.

This festival has taken place almost every year since 1930, despite taking some years off during that time period as a result of WWII and the more recent COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, this year marks the 85th year that the event has physically taken place.

“It’s one of the state’s oldest and largest festivals, and it’s here to celebrate natural beauty and natural resources of our state,” Shaffer said. He added that Maid Silvia and the rest of the royal court “just symbolize part of what the festival is about, some of it’s traditions. So, today’s luncheon really fits in with that and just celebrating their honor.”

Each year, the festival’s board of directors selects a different Maid Silvia to participate in the festival. The criteria for Maid Silvia is that she must be an 18 to 23-year-old woman from West Virginia, but she can’t be a native of Randolph County.

Maid Silvia is officially selected through an application process, and it is typically someone with ties to the local community. This year’s Maid Silvia, Anna Ruf, actually attended Davis & Elkins College and was a princess in last year’s royal court.

The maids of honor are typically members of the community and are the highest positions for young women from Randolph County to hold.

The remainder of the royal court consists of children that were selected through their parents’ involvement/volunteerism, or through competitions for jesters, trumpeters, and scouts. This year’s royal court will reign until early spring of next year when the new royal court members will be announced.

This coming Friday, Maid Silvia will be crowned Queen Silvia during a royal coronation ceremony. For the rest of the week, the Mountain State Forest Festival will be hosting a number of free events throughout the city of Elkins. There will be live entertainment each evening through Thursday, and the coronation will have vendors and crafters, as well as a carnival.

Queen Silvia will retain her position until next year’s coronation when the new Queen Silvia receives her crown.