If you are looking for the quintessential, old-fashioned country festival to attend, we have the perfect destination for you. WVU Willow Bend Farm in Monroe County, 4 miles south of Union on Willow Bend Road, is gearing up for their annual Autumn Harvest Festival on September 24-25. The event has been going on for 30 years and is held the last full weekend in September each year.
Willow Bend Farms is owned by West Virginia University. Over the years, it has served many purposes for the university and is currently used as a breeding location for Angus and Herford cows. The farm also hosts school tours. The students attending can take part in various activities including hay rides and agriculture production classes.
The Autumn Harvest Festival is an example of the long standing tradition in the Mountain State of celebrating the end of a long and strenuous harvest season. Farmers and the surrounding community have come together for centuries this time of year to enjoy the fruits of their labors and begin to look forward to a season of rest in comparison to the sun-up to sun-down schedule they have been enduring for many months.
The festival features a quilt show, flower show, canned good show, and produce show. Each contest is judged. The winners receive a monetary prize and, substantially more important, bragging rights. Arts and crafts handmade by local artisans will be available for purchase. While most of the food is provided and sold by local churches, the West Virginia Cattleman’s Association will be on hand selling freshly cooked meats. If that’s not enough to tempt you to open your wallets, there will be a flea market set up for two full days. On Sunday at 1, a Sunday dinner will be provided by the participating churches.
There are events for the entire family to participate in, including a youth pedal-tractor pull, featuring young’uns pedaling for dear life to pull a sled the fastest. From what I hear, this particular event once had an adult race as well, but the competition was a bit too fierce in the past, causing it to be cancelled for safety’s sake. Other games include a cookie stacking contest for the kids, hay bale toss competition for the older kids and adults, and corn hole tournaments for different age brackets.
No West Virginia festival is complete without live music, and the Autumn Harvest Festival is no exception. On Saturday, music will be provided by The Country Pride Band and the Diggin’ Grass Band, both performing bluegrass music. On Sunday, gospel music will be performed by the John Wessley UMC Choir, Freddy and Nedra Hicks, and Touch of Harmony.
For more information or if you would like to participate, you can contact Shane Clarkson at 304-772-5475. Come on down to the festival and enjoy all the bounty the farms and fields of West Virginia have to offer!
– Heather Hanna, Greenbrier Valley Economic Development Corporation. // HashtagWV September 2016.
HASHTAGWV ART & ENTERTAINMENT Publisher/Editor-in-Chief, Christina Entenmann-Edwards has been a WV resident since September 2008. She was born and raised in Fairfield County, Connecticut, and is no stranger to hard work and the entrepreneurial spirit. In 2006, she graduated from Quinnipiac University (Hamden, Connecticut), Cum Laude, with a B.A. in History. In 2010, she graduated with an M.B.A. from Liberty University (Lynchburg, Virginia). In February 2012, Christina launched HashtagWV as the area’s first full-color, free arts and entertainment tabloid + online platform. Christina completed the Leadership West Virginia class of 2021, which is an innovative program that grows, engages, and mobilizes leaders to ignite a life passion to move West Virginia forward.