ELKINS, W.Va. (WBOY) — One of West Virginia’s biggest and oldest festivals, Elkins’ Mountain State Forest Festival, is set to start in just over a week after several years off due to the pandemic. The week-long festival is expected to bring up to 75,000 visitors to Randolph County.

This year, Forest Festival will begin on Saturday, Oct. 1, and will continue until Sunday, Oct. 9, featuring activities from food vendors and carnival rides to a lumberjack competition and primitive camping display. The streets of downtown Elkins are shut down for the festival and even Davis & Elkins College students are given a few days off classes to enjoy the festivities.

“It’s just important that we continue to do things like fairs and festivals, and events like this going because they provide a lot of cultural experiences and things that especially children, but people of all ages enjoy,” said Robbie Morris, Mountain State Forest Festival director general.

Things you don’t want to miss

Some of the highlights of the Forest Festival are during the weekend of the 7th and 8th. On Friday, at 2 p.m., Maid Sylvia will be coronated and the other Festival princesses will be recognized at the Citizen’s Bank of West Virginia Amphitheater at Davis & Elkins College. Pre-Coronation music and entertainment will begin at 1 p.m.

The next morning, early risers can watch the lumberjack contest, also at the amphitheater, starting at 8 a.m. Throughout the day on Saturday, attendees can see the Grande Feature Parade down 12th Street starting at 1:30 p.m. and the Country Music Show at the D&E Amphitheater at 7 p.m.

Throughout the event, festival-goers can enjoy different craft showings, food vendors, outdoor activities at the park and the Gambill Amusement Carnival, which will be open on the downtown streets from Oct. 2 to Oct. 9.

The official closing ceremony for the festival will take place at 2 p.m. on Sunday. The full list of events—from Oct. 1 to Oct. 9—can be viewed on the official Forest Festival website.

Food to try while you’re in the area

While you’re in the Elkins area, make sure to try some of the area’s unique restaurants, in addition to the festival vendors. Here are just a few to put on your radar:

  • El Grande Sabor, an authentic Venezuelan restaurant hidden inside what looks like a residential house on Kerns Ave in Elkins. They also have one of the best margaritas in Randolph County.
  • The Crossing Coffee Bar, a hub for all things art located inside Del Monte Market. It offers coffee, baked goods, sandwiches and ice cream, and while you’re there, check out the attached artisan market.
  • CJ Maggies, a bar and grill in the heart of downtown Elkins that has everything you could want, from ribs to pasta to fried pickles. If you’re on your way home, there is also a location in Buckhannon just off Corridor H.
  • Hellbender Burritos, an inauthentic Mexican restaurant in Davis that serves anything but usual combinations. This one is a bit of a drive from Elkins, but if you plan to visit the Davis/Thomas area (which you definitely should), Hellbenders is worth the stop.
  • The Donut Shop, a Buckhannon bakery that makes one of the most unique pepperoni rolls in the state. It’s a short drive from Elkins, but if you are looking to get one of the most authentic West Virginia pepperoni rolls experiences—with ground pepperoni instead of the typical stick or slices—Donut Shop is one of a kind.