French Creek Freddie emerges from his cozy den at the 2021 West Virginia Wildlife Center during a Groundhog Day celebration. / File photo courtesy Tyler Evert, West Virginia Department of Commerce/W.Va. Division of Natural Resources

Freddie, set, go: Groundhog Day festivities set for Thursday, Feb. 2, at the W.Va. Wildlife Center

FRENCH CREEK – Upshur County’s favorite weather-predicting creature will soon emerge to let residents know if they can expect more weeks of winter or an early spring.

French Creek Freddie will make his annual appearance at the West Virginia Wildlife Center amphitheater Thursday, Feb. 2, in honor of Groundhog Day. The center will kick off the 46th annual Groundhog Day festivities at 9:30 a.m., where guests can enter free of charge.

“Freddie will come out at 10 a.m., so between 9:30 a.m. and 10 a.m., we’ll have French Creek Elementary School choir sing, we’ll have some trivia, we’ll have some get-to-know-you stuff and then Freddie will come out at 10 a.m.,” West Virginia State Wildlife Center biologist Trevor Moore said. “After Freddie comes out, we can take pictures with the mascot, people can feel free to look at all of our other animals at the Wildlife Center, and we will have a wood chucking contest that will have prizes.”

Moore said the event would also feature their first Project Wild activity for the children at the Welcome Center and free hot chocolate and cookies.

“It’s always a fun thing to kickstart the year, and it really helps us get the word out there and get us ready to go for the next year,” Moore said. “Lucky for us, Freddie is usually still coming out of hibernation when we get him ready to move over to the amphitheater, so he’s a little sluggish, so once we get him into his little box and then once we get the box over there, then it’s no problem.”

According to legend, if the marmot sees his shadow, that signifies six more weeks of winter. Conversely, if he doesn’t see his shadow, an early spring is on the way. Last year, Freddie predicted there would be six more weeks of winter.

The West Virginia State Wildlife Center offers free admission from Nov. 1 until March 31 and admission will begin again April 1.

More information about groundhogs can be found in My Buckhannon’s first Creature Feature, a monthly feature that highlights different native West Virginia animals.

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