Friday, September 27, 2013

Hangin' with Queen Ceres

West Virginia is the most festival-crazy place I have ever lived.  It seems that every weekend, there's some kind of local event going on--especially this time of year, when many towns have harvest festivals celebrating whatever the local crop is.

But my favorite, hands down, is the Preston County Buckwheat Festival, which has taken place in Kingwood, the Preston County seat, every fall since 1938.  Kingwood is about twenty miles east of Morgantown, straight up a narrow, twisty two-lane road.

Preston County takes this community event seriously:  the county schools are closed for the duration of the festival, since so many kids are participating in one way or another...showing livestock, preparing crops or baked goods for judging, or marching in one of the innumerable marching bands in the area.

Friday is always children's day at the Buckwheat Festival, and so the midway swarms with preteens and teens out of school for the day, scoping out the rides, games, food, and each other before the day's big event, the kids' parade.  

You have never seen a parade with so much royalty:  there's Queen Ceres and King Buckwheat, of course, but there are also innumerable princesses, junior princesses, and Little/Tiny/Baby Miss Valley District, plus visiting royalty from near and far.  No one, it seems, reaches adulthood in Preston County without having been some kind of festival princess or attendant.

King Buckwheat. After I took this photo, he blew me a kiss.  Swoon!

Queen Ceres
For me, the highlight is always the buckwheat pancake feed at the Kingwood VFD Hall.  It's a huge building, filled end-to-end with banquet tables, and for eight bucks you get a KVFD plate loaded with all the pancakes you can eat, two enormous pieces of homemade sausage, and a half pint carton of whole milk.  Butter and syrup are on the shared tables, and in the past, I've actually seen Queen Ceres herself--tiara and all--busing tables, pouring coffee refills, and bringing extra pancakes to diners. 

We don't get there every year--often the weather is chilly and rainy.  But today could not have been a more picture-perfect day to go:  72 degrees with bright, warm sunshine.  

That, and discovering that one of the prizewinning goats was named Katniss, made it a perfectly lovely day out.

Katniss is the goat on the other side of the fence--the one you can't
see very well.  Camera-shy, just like her namesake.

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