For 84 years the Mountain State Forest Festival and the town of Elkins have been inseparable. After a two-year pandemic-related hiatus, the festival was back in all its glory for the first nine days of October. Like an old friend, the entire region welcomed it home to Elkins.
Davis & Elkins College is pleased to play a central role in this local festival. Our campus serves as the home for numerous events that include the country music show, the craft festival, the lumberjack competition, highland dance, receptions and meals at either Graceland or the Myles Center, and more. The most elaborate of all the events on our campus is the coronation of the festival monarch, Queen Silvia. The pageant that surrounds the coronation was written by the late D&E Professor of Theater and Drama Claire Fiorentino. British royalty could take a few lessons from the pomp and circumstance that occur on D&E’s Coronation Hill as Maid Silvia is crowned Queen Silvia, surrounded by her maids of honor, 40 princesses from across the state, the minor court, jesters, and more. The entire festival is small town Americana at its best, and Elkins does a spectacular job rolling out the red carpet to attendees numbering in the tens of thousands.
For the past several decades the amphitheatre stage at D&E has served the festival and the community well. However, over the years, the disintegrating concrete and general wear and tear resulted in a stage that had become an embarrassment. Two years ago, the College administration began working to change that. With gratitude for funding to Citizens Bank of West Virginia, the City of Elkins, and the Randolph County Commission, a brand-new amphitheatre was completed just in time for the 2022 Forest Festival. With six days to spare, Applied Construction Solutions, Inc. of Bridgeport completed the project on time and on budget. The Citizens Bank of West Virginia Amphitheatre at Davis & Elkins College made its debut on a beautiful fall day to an enthusiastic crowd that gloried in a storied festival amongst the palette of colors that is fall in Randolph County.
Numerous people commented to me how pleased they were with the significant involvement of D&E students and personnel in this year’s festival. The College was proud that the two maids of honor and nine princesses were from D&E. The Grand Feature Parade had a large representation of joyous students joining with Lisa and me to represent the College.
The return of the Mountain State Forest Festival was a celebration for our entire region, and Davis & Elkins College was elated to join in the festivities. Those of us at the College share in the sense of pride and tradition that the festival represents for our community and the state of West Virginia.
This column focuses on our journey. For generations of D&E students, as for generations of residents of this region, the Mountain State Forest Festival has produced memories and milestones that have enhanced our journeys. May there be many more such memories made in the coming years as the whole community comes together each fall to celebrate our forests and our way of life.
The journey continues….
Chris A. Wood
Davis & Elkins College