Festivals and family events in West Virginia
It’s party time in West Virginia! Residents here know how to throw a party, and they have plenty of things to celebrate. For those reasons, it seems like you can find a fair or festival happening somewhere in the state all year long. These events are all a great way to have fun and spend time with your family. Check out our top picks.
West Virginia Strawberry Festival
The West Virginia Strawberry Festival is held every year for five days during the third week in May. It was started to celebrate the strawberry growers in the state, and even though it still does, it now celebrates a lot more as well. A parade (or several) happens every day of the festival, and a competition or exhibition of some sort is almost always happening, along with a craft show. Admission is free, but bring extra cash for food and carnival games. Most people park on the street in nearby neighborhoods, but you can also park on the campus of West Virginia Wesleyan College.
Location: 27 W. Main St., Buckhannon, West Virginia, 26201
The Appalachian Festival is a celebration of West Virginia's Appalachian heritage. The three-day festival is held at the end of August in the Beckley-Raleigh County Convention Center. Sample Appalachian food, take a ghost tour, watch craft demonstrations and look for the strolling musicians. You can spend hours at the craft show and touring the car show, then end the day boogying down to a bluegrass band. The weekend's activity isn't limited to the Convention Center -- coordinating activities throughout Beckley take place that weekend, so go exploring!
Location: 200 Armory Drive, Beckley, West Virginia, 25801
Rates: $3 to $5, Children under 12 are free
State Fair of West Virginia
The State Fair of West Virginia makes up nine of the best days of the year in this state. It happens in the middle of August, so dress for heat, and wear your walking shoes because this place is huge. If you want to stay for a few days, consider camping on the grounds. They offer spots with no electricity or water (there are several bath houses) for just $10 a night, and few spots with full hookups, though those are hard to nab. Be sure to take part in the Bingo competitions -- it's some of the biggest game winnings available all year in West Virginia.
Location: 891 Maplewood Ave., Fairlea, West Virginia, 24902
Rates: $7 to $20, Children under 5 are free
West Virginia Italian Heritage Festival
The West Virginia Italian Heritage Festival is the pride of Clarksburg, and a huge hit throughout the state. The three-day festival draws over 100,000 people to this West Virginia town at the end of August every year. It starts with the crowning of a queen and ends with a festival ball. In between, you'll find delicious food, music, dancing, Italian-themed goods and so much more. If you want a good laugh, make sure to watch the meatball eating contest!
Location: 340 W. Main St., Clarksburg, West Virginia, 26302
Winter Festival of Lights
The Winter Festival of Lights at Ogelbay Resort is a spectacular light show that takes place every year from November through the first week of January. It's a six-mile drive-through light display with over 75 huge displays, most of them moving and set to music. For a monetary donation, you can drive your car right through, without ever getting out into the cold. If you do feel like parking and stretching your legs, you'll find a ton to do at Ogelbay, such as shops, spas and a glass museum.
Location: 465 Lodge Drive, Oglebay, West Virginia, 26003
Rates: Donation required, $20 gets you a keepsake DVD
Mountain State Art and Craft Fair
Every July, the "granddaddy of all art festivals" comes to Ripley, West Virginia. You'll find the best of the best art and craft vendors, along with heritage and craftsman demonstrations, great food, musical performances and more. Bring the kids -- they'll love the storytellers and drawing workshops at this three-day event. No need to bring a chair, but don't wear your best pants either. You can sit on hay bales scattered throughout the grounds and rest your tired feet.
Location: 82 FFA Drive, Ripley, West Virginia, 25271
Rates: $2 to $6, Children under 6 are free
The Vandalia Gathering celebrates the history of West Virginia, specifically the mountain culture that still has a strong influence on the area. This free event is held on the grounds of the capitol building. The biggest draw is the music, generally played on banjos, mandolins and fiddles. If you know how to square dance, you can show off your skills here. If you don't, this is the place to learn. Rows and rows of craftspeople set up shop to hold demonstrations and sell their wares. If you have kids, go during the middle of the day on Saturday and Sunday when most of the children-oriented activities are happening.
Location: 1900 Kanawha Blvd. E., Charleston, West Virginia, 25305