5 longstanding favorites at one of WV’s oldest festivals

In its 80+ years, the Mountain State Forest Festival in Elkins has gotten BIG. But of all the excitement, here’s what you can’t miss.

1. Irish road bowling

Like its name says, this sport originated in Ireland. But it has become quite popular here in the Mountain State, especially in the town of Ireland, WV! Basically, participants roll small, heavy cannonballs down a long country road. Check out The Forest Festival’s competitive tournament.

Singers at WV festival

2. Appalachian music

We all know that the twang of old-time fiddles, banjos and guitars is iconic in West Virginia. The Forest Festival has had fiddle and banjo comps from the very beginning, so it attracts some of the very best.

This year, they’re stepping up the tradition of mountain music with a stomping “Banjos, Burgers, and Beer.” And unlike the festival’s opening year in 1930 (when prohibition was still in full force), you’ll be able to sample the finest West Virginia wines and microbrews.

3. Strongmen and lumberjacks

Elkins was in the middle of some of West Virginia’s most productive lumber forests, so wood harvesting has been a part of the Forest Festival for a long time. Watch burly, axe-wielding fellows face off in a lumberjack competition, or in the strongman competition. Saws, weights and muscles!

4. Fire engines

This tradition is a local favorite. Fire departments from all over the Mountain State send their finest engines, old and new, to parade through the streets in their red majesty, sirens blaring.

5. All hail the queen

Did you know that the name “Silvia” comes from the Latin word for forest, “silva”? Every year since the beginning, the governor of West Virginia has crowned the winner of the festival’s pageant as “Queen Silvia.”

This is the culminating extravaganza of the entire festival, with a theatrical pageant and a full court of 40 princesses from around the state. Even the costumes are steeped in tradition: Princesses wear velvet that is cut with the same special pair of scissors that have been used for more than 30 years.

This post was last updated on March 16, 2022