Autumn food festivals abound
HUNTINGTON -- The campfire smoke has barely cleared from Heritage Farm's Cast Iron Cookoff and the mashed potato massacre at Nicholas County's Potato Festival, but as we look down the road, we've got plenty more great outdoor food festivals on the way.
Here's a look at a baker's dozen of fall food fests in West Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio.
15th Annual Charleston Ribfest
Huntington's Ribfest may be history but if you're jonesing for some good ribs, head down to the 15th Annual Ribfest BBQ Festival, 37 MacCorkle Ave. SW, South Charleston. Featuring rib teams from around the country, Ribfest rolls into its last day, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 8. There are also carnival rides, nightly entertainment, attractions and an eating contest at 3 p.m.
The first 100 people through the gates Sunday, gets a free Ribfest T-shirt. Call 304-444-2921 or go online at www.charlestonwvribfest.com.
Sanctioned by the International Chili Society and sponsored by Chili Willi's and WSAZ, the 30th annual ChiliFest is the West Virginia State Chili Championship, and is one of the biggest festivals in downtown Huntington.
Set to kickoff at 11 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 14, at Pullman Square and up and down 3rd Avenue, the 30th anniversary ChiliFest looks to draw chili cooks from around the U.S., and more than 20,000 people to come and check out the colorful, local booths including Hillbilly Chili, G-Lover Chili and many others.
In addition to the chili samples ($1 a piece), the fest also will have a kids korner, live music from Chris Sutton and C&S Railroad, classic rockers, One Foot and City Heat. There will also be wacky contests such as the shoot 'n' holler, the beer drinking contest through a baby bottle and hot pepper eating contest.
Go online at www.chilifestwv.com for more info.
Getting 'Uncorked' in Downtown
Tickets are on sale now for two upcoming Marshall Artists Series fall food themed fundraisers. The Marshall Artists Series' often sold-out, food and wine fundraiser "Uncorked" is set for 5 to 8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 28 at 21 at The Frederick. Premium tasting is at 4 p.m. For more information, call 304-696-3326.
This year, Uncorked will also have a stand-alone kick-off event, "An Evening in Argentina," at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 27, at 21 at The Frederick. Cost is $100 per person (very limited seating) for this South American-themed night of food, music and wine. Call 304-529-0222. Thanks to faithful patron, local physician and Latin music fan Oscar Ballester, both "An Evening in Argentina" and "Uncorked" will feature music from the world-renowned group the Trio Mielgo from Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Go online at www.marshallartistsseries.org for more info on the upcoming 2013-2014 Marshall Artists Series.
21st Annual Roadkill Cook Off
Taking place in the tiny mountain town of Marlinton, W.Va., (27 miles from Snowshoe), the Roadkill Cookoff, has been called "the real deal," by Andrew Zimmern from the hit cable TV show, "Bizarre Foods."
As seen on the Food Network and the Travel Channel, the famous wild game cookoff, starts at 11 a.m. The judging begins at 1 p.m. And the tasting beings when you're ready to sample. Cash prizes will be awarded to the top three teams chosen by celebrity judges.
For more information and a full event schedule visit http://pccocwv.com/~pccocwv/roadkillschedule.html.
Wild Food Weekend
"Remembering Our Roots" is a wildly appropriate theme for wild food enthusiasts meeting for the 46th Annual Nature Wonder Wild Foods Weekend at North Bend State Park Sept. 20-22.
The event, North America's longest-running wild foods event begins Friday evening and concludes Sunday afternoon. It includes speakers, presentations, nature walks and collection and preparation of wild foods.
Made famous by the late wild foods author Euell Gibbons, the fest will feature such naturalists and cooks as Deaonna Crowe of Stonewood, W.Va., a life-long enthusiast who is a National Wild Foods Hall of Fame member and author of one cookbook, It's All Wild, with a second book in the works. Bill Beatty, who made his first appearance as a speaker at the event in 1987, is a seasoned naturalist of 40 years and is the author of three books and numerous magazine articles. He will be speaking on the topics of medicinal and edible plants.
To register, contact Wendy Greene at the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources at 304-558-2754 or email Wendy.L.Greene@wv.gov . Reservation forms and additional information also are available online at http://wvdnr.gov/2013NWW.pdf. Overnight options include lodge rooms, cabins, or camping sites. Specify your preference during registration.
Since Kirkwood Winery in Summersville first opened in 1992, it has been host to the Kirkwood Grape Stomping Festival held each year on the third weekend in September.
Roll down to the winery for a family fun day of grape stomping, grape eating, wine tastings, tours of the Isiah Morgan Distillery and the Winery and lots of other fun from covered wagon and buggy rides to a stream of live music from such acts as The Davisson Brothers.
Go online at www.kirkwood-wine.com for more info about the 22nd Annual Kirkwood Winery Grape Stompin' Festival as well as the WV winery and distillery.
Paw Paw Festival
Albany, Ohio, just a few miles from Athens, and Lake Snowden, will have the 15th annual Ohio Paw Paw Festival, set for Sept. 13-15.
The fest gives up the love to the wild Appalachian paw paw fruit (Asimina triloba) which is North America's largest native tree fruit and was reportedly George Washington's favorite dessert.
Come out and enjoy all things pawpaw from beer to cooking contests, as well as a slew of live music, sustainable living workshops, activities for kids and much more.
Admission is $10 for a one-day pass, $20 for the weekend, kids 12 and under get in free.
Go online at www.ohiopawpawfest.com for more info
Kentucky Bourbon Festival
Rolling Tuesday, Sept. 17 through Sunday, Sept. 22, The 22nd annual Kentucky Bourbon Festival has more than 40 events and attractions scheduled.
Come out and learn about all things bourbon from bourbon mixology and cooking with bourbon, to dining and dancing in black-tie style to witnessing the World Championship Bourbon Barrel Relay.
Go online at www.kybourbonfestival.com for a full schedule of events.
Greek Fest -- Southside Style
Sure there's dancing, church tours, music and good times a plenty, but let's face it, the rock star of the Greek Fest at St. George Greek Orthodox Church on Huntington's Southside is the food. The ladies of the church bake and freeze thousands of amazing pastries from baklava to bird's nest, and the spits and ovens are fired up for everything from roasted lamb to Greek pizza and Moussaka.
The 31st annual Greek Festival runs 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Sept. 27-28 as well as 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 29.
Go online at www.stgeorgehwv.org/festival/ for more info.
Great Bowls of Fire
Usually the action in Ashland is inside the historic Paramount Arts Center, but for the past 11 years the Paramount Woman's Association has been bringing the party out to the parking lot for the ICS Sanctioned Kentucky State 2013 Great Bowls of Fire Chili Fest & Cook Off.
This year, the contest, which features a slew of live music, games, kids activities and vendors, is slated for Saturday, Sept. 28.
Go online at www.paramountartscenter.com for more info about the fest, which doles out more than $1,000 in prizes to the top chili cooks.
All Things Apple
In its 73rd year, the Jackson Apple Festival in Jackson, Ohio (about an hour north of Huntington), runs Sept. 17-21 with all things apple and then some.
There are three parades, a car show, band competition, tons of live music, and of course, all things apple. There's an apple peeling contest, apple cornhole and bingo, apple bobbing, and lots of homemade apple butter, apple pies, and candy apples. For more info, call 740-286-1339 or go online at www.jacksonapplefestival.com .
If that weekend doesn't work out for you, turn the horse south to Paintsville, Ky., where they host the 51st annual Kentucky Apple Festival, Oct. 4-5.
Go down the Country Music Highway where Paintsville comes alive with all things apple from an apple twist contest to apple art contests. There's also a huge arts and crafts area, live music, a parade and much more. Go online at www.kyapplefest.org.
And last but certainly not least, here in the heart of the WV, it's the 40th Annual Clay County Golden Delicious Festival that runs Thursday through Sunday, Sept. 19-22, Main Street, Clay.
Come out for such cool events as the skillet flinging contest, apple butter making, a cookie stacking contest, a crazy hat contest and free music, clogging, carnival, fireworks, food vendors, magic shows and much more.
For more information, call 304-587-7323 or 304-651-7353 or visit http://www.claygoldendeliciousfestival.com.
Parking It For Pumpkins
Since 1985 West Virginia Pumpkin Park in Milton has celebrated the glory of autumn and the harvest with the West Virginia Pumpkin Festival, which has turned into one of the state's largest fests.
Taking place Oct. 3-6, the Pumpkin Festival features the scholarship money raising giant pumpkin auction on Sunday, Oct. 6, as well as a pumpkin cooking contests (from main dishes to desserts), pumpkin decorating for the kids and of course, the sales of all things pumpkin from pumpkin butter to pumpkin pies.
The fest also has one of the state's largest arts and crafts tents, a mountain men encampment, and lots of old-time demonstrations like sorghum making.
Hours are 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 6.
Go online at www.wvpumpkinpark.com .
Roll Out the Barrels
The 18th Annual Bramwell Oktoberfest (featuring microbreweries from about six states) will run from 2 to 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 12, on the brick streets of Bramwell's Millionaire Row Historic District.
General admission ticketholders over age 21 may obtain 2-ounce samples of competing beers from breweries from around the region including: Bridge Brew Works, Chestnut Brew Works, Charleston Brewing Company, Blue Mountain, Southern Tier and Sunken City, among others.
Children 12 and under are admitted free. Adult tickets are $18 in advance and $20 at the gate. For tickets in advance, contact the Mercer County Convention and Visitor's Bureau at 800-221-3206 or go online at www.bramwelloktoberfest.com .
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