Destination: Appalachian Highlands

by | Sep. 21, 2010


Celebrating Culture

If you visit West Virginia in the summer, you’ll miss the annual RoadKill Cook-off near Snowshoe Mountain (held in September). Maybe you’ll be a little relieved, unless your palate is adventurous enough to try squirrel gravy or teriyaki-marinated bear. But warm weather brings with it plenty of other cultural attractions worth experiencing.

The food of West Virginia is as comfortable, casual, and delightful as its people (squirrel gravy notwithstanding). Sample some of its tastiest foods at summer festivals like the Fire on the Mountain Chili Cook-off (also near Snowshoe), or Ice Mountain Day at North River Mills, where you can help gather ice from mountain fissures to make fresh homemade ice cream.

At most food festivals you’ll also be treated to toe-tapping bluegrass by musicians with dexterous fingers and light hearts. Appalachian or “mountain” music carries on fiddling traditions brought by Scots-Irish immigrants years ago. Dance along (or just listen) at the annual Appalachian String Band Music Festival, held each summer, or at smaller music festivals around the state.

Appalachian crafts at their best reflect West Virginia’s practical sense of beauty and ingenuity. Observe artisans at work in their own studios and shops around the state, like the Cabin Creek Quilts in Malden, the Blenko Glass factory in Milton, or Brown’s Creations in Clay in Morgantown. At some studios, you can even learn from the masters.

If you won’t be touring each little town, browse one of the shops that proudly sell West-Virginia-made creations. Tamarack in Beckley features artisan demonstrations and the gourmet A Taste of West Virginia eatery. MountainMade (with locations in Thomas and Roanoke) sells expertly tooled woodworking, textiles, pottery, and other beautiful crafts. After watching these artisans at work, you’ll want to take their handiwork home with you!

The Best Things in West Virginia

Though you could easily drop a lot of money in West Virginia at an exclusive resort, golf club, or outfitter, most adventures here are easy on the wallet. The best attraction, those gorgeous Appalachian highlands, is free to all comers. You’ll make plenty of lasting memories without spending much money. So if you haven’t already grabbed those binoculars, gear up. There’s a bend in the backcountry just waiting for you.
Find out 4 Places You Must See in West Virginia.

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