On March 15, 1950, the 231-acre Easter Farm in Jackson County was deeded to the state Board of Education by Oliver Kessel, a prominent citizen of Ripley. Work soon began on what would become the Cedar Lakes Conference Center.
A year before, the legislature had moved the idea forward by authorizing a camp and leadership training facility for students. The project was the brainchild of West Virginia’s Future Farmers of America, Future Homemakers of America, and the Board of Education’s vocational division.
The camp officially opened in 1955. It was named two years later for the site’s predominant features: two beautiful lakes and an abundance of native cedar trees.
Cedar Lakes has grown into an impressive facility with 30 buildings on 450 acres, cottages, classrooms, a crafts center, a cafeteria and chapel, a superintendent’s house, and a modern motel-style lodge. Softball, swimming, tennis, fishing, hiking, miniature golf, and canoeing are also offered. An estimated half-a-million people visit Cedar Lakes each year.
And, since 1963, Cedar Lakes has been home to the Mountain State Art & Craft Fair, West Virginia’s largest outdoor craft event.