By Kaitlyn Eichelberger
Preston County’s Buckwheat Festival is preparing to celebrate “80 Years of Memories.”
Everyone is invited to join Preston County for four days of parades, carnival rides and games, livestock shows and sales, arts and crafts, a car show, and Preston County’s famous buckwheat cakes.
During the Great Depression, buckwheat was grown as an “insurance crop” because of its hardy nature and short growing season. In 1938, Preston County farmers came together to celebrate the year’s harvest. Thus, the annual Buckwheat Festival began, named after one of the area’s most important crops.
Observed nearly every year, only cancelled during World War II and in 2020, the festival is a hallmark of memories for residents of Preston County. This significance inspired this year’s theme, said General Chairman Nick Taylor.
Last year, as Taylor drove home with his family on the final day of the festival, his children sat in the back seat reminiscing about the celebrations. At that moment, the theme for 2022 became clear.
“I wanted to center this year’s theme around memories because really, at the end of the day, that’s what we do at the festival,” said Taylor. “We create memories.”
The event acts as a gathering for the community, and youth are a big part of the festivities.
“It really highlights a bright spot of our county and in our youth, particularly our youth that are involved in agriculture. These kids are hard workers,” said Taylor. “The kids showing are from here and they’re representing their town, their county, their communities and their families.”
The festival’s royalty courts are another example of this, comprised of county residents from elementary to high school. Holding the titles of King Buckwheat and Queen Ceres LXXX are James “Jimmy” Peaslee of Albright and Taylor Holt of Fellowsville.
“To me, the festival highlights our youth,” said Taylor. “Whether it’s our marching bands or our livestock association or our royalty court, you really see some of the best we have to offer from our youth at the festival. I think that’s really special.”
To mark the anniversary, WVU’s Pride of West Virginia will be performing on Saturday and a new craft beer festival has been added to the lineup on Friday. Another vital aspect of the festival, the arts and crafts fair is a full house of new and old vendors, said Taylor.
Completely volunteer-run, the Buckwheat Festival is by the community, for the community.
“We’re an army of volunteers,” said Taylor. “There’s so many people that spend countless hours getting this festival off the ground, and it’s pretty amazing to see what can be done by a lot of people with a passion to do this.”
With all aspects of the festival returning to normal since 2020-21, festival organizers are looking forward to a strong turnout. There’s something for everyone to enjoy.
“Hopefully everyone will be able to come back and join us and start making memories again.”