BUCKHANNON — The Strawberry Festival is set to return in full force today, after being canceled entirely in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and existing only in an abbreviated version a year ago.
This year’s festival will feature a full schedule that begins today with several events planned, including the WVSF Pet Show beginning at noon at the City of Buckhannon Dog Park, and the Horse and Carriage Parade on Strawberry Lane at 3 p.m. The WVSF Gift Shop on East Main Street will also be open from business from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m.
Restaurants on Main Street will also feature specialty strawberry dishes beginning today and will continue to do so throughout the entire week. A minimal schedule on Sunday and Monday are good days to try some of those different dishes. The WVSF Gift Shop will also be on a regular schedule Monday.
Things shift into high gear on Tuesday when carnival rides begin to operate. There will be an armband special for $30 beginning on Tuesday and running through Friday, from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Tickets are also available each night and will be needed to ride on Saturday when the carnival operates from 1 p.m. until close.
The Food Court will also open on Tuesday at Jawbone Park and there will be a free Family Fun Night at the Stockert Youth Center from 5 p.m. until 8 p.m. The USDA Snakes of West Virginia by Roy Moose will be on hand at the youth center event.
On Wednesday, Opening Ceremonies, along with the lighting of the Festival Flame, will be held at noon at the Courthouse Plaza. A Photography Exhibit will be on display at the Colonial Theatre MIB Gallery from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m., and the Coronation of the King and Queen will take place at the West Virginia Wesleyan College Chapel at 6:30 p.m.
Live music will also take the stage Wednesday evening at the Jawbone Park Stage from 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. and the Queens Ball will be at 8:30 p.m. at the WVWC Social Hall.
Another full day of activities are planned for Thursday, beginning with the CEO Quilt Show at the WVWC Gymnasium starting at 9 a.m. There will be a Diaper Derby and Children’s Strawberry Blonde contest at the Courthouse Plaza at 10 a.m., as well as an Arts and Crafts display at the Stockert Youth Center. The Photography Exhibit will open at 10 a.m. at the Colonial Theatre MIB Gallery and entertainment will be on the Courthouse Plaza beginning at 5:30 p.m.
The Junior Royal Parade is at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday on Strawberry Lane and the Jawbone Park Stage will host live music beginning at 7:30 p.m. Strawberry Idol (80’s Theme) will be at the Courthouse Plaza at 8:30 p.m.
On Friday, Strawberry Pancakes will be served at the First United Methodist Church from 7 a.m. until 1 p.m., while the Quilt Show, Photography Exhibit, and Arts & Craft Show will be open at their respective locations. Spring Fling is scheduled from 11:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. at the Upshur Senior Center. Live music and entertainment will run from 1 p.m. until 3 p.m. at the Courthouse Plaza, and the Strawberry Capping Championship and Crowning of the Lord and Lady will be at the Upshur Senior Center at 1 p.m.
The Sweetest Berry Competition will be held at the Courthouse Plaza at 3 p.m. on Friday, followed by a Strawberry Auction at the same location. Entertainment will continue after the auction on the plaza at 5:30 p.m.
The Fireman’s Parade will begin at 6:30 p.m. on Friday on Strawberry Lane. After the parade at 8 p.m. there will be numerous contests and live entertainment (Jawbone Park) along with Party Gras (Main Street). Strawberry Idol will perform at the Courthouse Plaza at 8:30 p.m.
All of the shows and exhibits will be open again on Saturday, and the Mountaineer Strawberry 2700 Championships will get underway at 9 a.m. at White Horse. There will be an Antique Engine and Tractor Show at the Stockert Youth Center at the same time and the Strawberry Mile Race is scheduled for 10 a.m. at Academy School.
The Grand Feature Parade will be on Strawberry Lane and will begin at 1 p.m. Following the parade there will be a Classic Car Parade and Irish Road Bowling (4 p.m.) on Turkey Run Road. A Classic Car Cruise-in will be at 5 p.m. on Main Street and entertainment is planned throughout the evening at the Courthouse Plaza, Jawbone Park and Main Street. An evening with the Drum and Bugle Corps will be at West Virginia Wesleyan College’s Ross Stadium at 5:30 p.m.
On Sunday the Mountaineer Strawberry 2700 Championships will be at 8 a.m. at White Horse and the Jack Barker Canoe Race will be at Wood Street Park at noon. The carnival will run from 1 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Sunday, and there will be a Gospel Sing at the Way of Holiness Church at 2 p.m.
This year’s event is the 80th annual West Virginia Strawberry Festival. The Festival was started as a way to honor strawberry growers and help them increase sales. The very first Festival was just a day-long celebration and as its popularity grew over the years, it became a week-long celebration.