Martinsburg is primed to celebrate its 43rd Mountain State Apple Harvest Festival this weekend.
The festival’s roots date back to the end of the 19th century, but the modern iteration became a permanent fixture in the Eastern Panhandle starting in 1979. Ever since, it has traditionally been held every third weekend in October to celebrate apple harvesting season throughout West Virginia.
The festival kicks off Friday evening with the coronation of this year’s Queen Pomona, who helps lead the festival’s parade during the weekend festivities.
“The Eastern Panhandle has long been a great producer of apples, and we continue to be so, as a matter of fact,” festival president Susan Snowden said. “You never want to forget where you come from, and what made us what we are today. And certainly the apple industry has played a big part in that.”
This year, the festival is being headed up by Martinsburg native and Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame member Vicky Bullett, who is serving as the parade’s Grand Marshal.
“I had already done it in 1988, but it was as a sports celebrity. So I only had to participate in the parade, in just one event,” Bullett said. “I’ve traveled most of my life, but to come home and see some friendly faces, it just brings a warm space in my heart, so I’m glad to be a part of it.”
Some of the attractions include agriculture and photography contests, food vendors and pop up shops.
Other events include a 5k run through downtown Martinsburg on Saturday at 10:30 a.m., a rodeo that afternoon at 4 p.m and a Sunday church service at 9 a.m.
The festival is scheduled to start at 9 a.m. Saturday and Sunday and is located at the Berkeley County Youth Fairgrounds at 2419 Golf Course Road in Martinsburg. The parade is set for Saturday at 1.p.m. West Virginia Public Broadcasting will have a meet-and-greet booth on the festival’s grounds.