Aldona Bird, Columns/Opinion

Festivities abound around the region this weekend

Ready for the Buckwheat Festival? And the Pawpaw Festival? And the Morgantown Art Walk? And the kazillion other events happening this weekend?
Trying to keep up with the many exciting community events this weekend, I barely know where to start. I’ve been carefully planning each day of the weekend for about a week now.
First, of course, there is the Buckwheat Festival, Thursday through Sunday in Kingwood. If you’ve never been, I highly recommend it. Eat some buckwheat cakes, check out the vendors and 4-H and farm exhibits, and ride the Ferris wheel. It’s always a fun time, and I’m willing to bet you won’t regret your trip to our awesome 77th annual county fair.
Friday evening, Main Street Morgantown hosts its art walk, another always enjoyable event. Participating businesses (most downtown merchants) stay open late showcasing the work of artists.

In addition to assorted other events, including story times, farmers markets and Friends of Deckers Creek Fall creek clean-up (volunteers still needed), another festival I’m particularly excited about is WVU Core Arboretum’s Pawpaw Festival.
That will be from 1-5 p.m. Saturday and will include live music, lawn games and activities. Author and pawpaw breeder Neal Peterson will present samples of his special pawpaw varieties, Hill and Hollow’s chef Marion Ohlinger will cook the fruit and author Andrew Moore will speak about pawpaw history, uses and future.
Zach Fowler, WVU Core Arboretum director, said this event is “a nice complement to our pawpaw parties.” For the last two weeks — since the pawpaw trees in the arboretum started ripening — he hosted parties for the public to come and taste this native fruit, and take seeds and information home.
If the fruit remains good for picking this week, there will be one final party at the arboretum this Thursday — check the
website or social media for info.
Pawpaws are our oldest native tree fruit in this region. They look sort of like a small mango and taste like banana and mango custard with large seeds.
Through the Pawpaw Festival, Zach said he hopes to “introduce people to this tropical fruit that’s been growing here for thousands of years.”
“Even though a lot of people haven’t tasted them or experienced them, they aren’t a new thing,” he added.
Ohlinger will prepare three
different sampling dishes,
according to Zach: a historic and native dish, a traditional dish for related fruits (mangos, etc) and a modern cuisine.
Any local food-centered event is a must try in my opinion.
“It is really a big student effort, as well as WVU,” Zach said of the whole festival.
With changing weather and students and university personnel in full school mode, the festival ends arboretum’s event season. Come spring, Zach will start again with wildflower walks and other events leading into the summer.
In addition to our local activities, check out Pittsburgh this week, weekend and next week for free admittance days at some museums and other attractions around the city.
While I’m feeling overwhelmed by my tight schedule this weekend, all these wonderful community events remind me of how wonderful Mon and Preston counties are, how much we have to offer and how many fun and family friendly local events are available.

ALDONA BIRD is a journalist, previously writing for The Dominion Post. She uses experience gained working on organic farms in Europe to help her explore possibilities of local productivity and sustainable living in Preston County. Contact her at