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The first Mountain State Forest Festival began in Elkins on October 30, 1930. Since then, it has been held every October except for the years 1941 to 1949.
The festival was intended to attract tourists to the region, which is known for its hardwood trees and dazzling fall colors. It often occurs shortly before the November elections. So, it has hosted a bevy of politicians, including Presidents Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, and Jimmy Carter. It also has brought in a wide range of other national figures, including pilot and racing legend Eddie Rickenbacker, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, and “first man on the moon” Neil Armstrong.
Typical events include performances by the Wheeling Symphony, nationally known country music acts, a fiddle contest, and dances. It also features arts-and-craft shows, wood chopping contests, old English knight tournaments, a carnival, and a fire-engine parade representing departments from across West Virginia. The culminating moment is when West Virginia’s governor crowns the new Queen Silvia.
Today, the festival, which is celebrated the first weekend in October, regularly attracts up to 150,000 visitors to the Randolph County seat.