Pretty sweet: Pickens to host 35th annual Maple Syrup Festival March 16-17

This year's festival will feature two new events -- axe throwing and the introduction of the Paw Patrol, Scooby Doo and Troll characters for kids

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A scene from the ever-popular Pickens Maple Syrup Festival circa 2010 / Photo by Brian Bergstrom

PICKENS – This winter has been especially long and frigid.

So, if you’re looking to rid yourself of cabin fever that’s creeping in, this weekend’s 35th annual Maple Syrup Festival in Pickens is a perfect pick.

Saturday, March 16, and Sunday, March 17, local residents and visitors will be celebrating that sweet and sticky amber favorite during the 2019 Maple Syrup Festival.

Deb Morgan, one of the organizers, said this year’s festival, which always takes place on the third weekend in March, has plenty to do in its lineup, including a few new events.

“The two new things for this year include the life-size Paw Patrol and Scooby Doo Characters,” Morgan said. “They will be walking around town to meet with the kids. That will be a great attraction for the kids. We are really excited about this for the kids this year.”

Morgan said the other new attraction is the axe-throwing sponsored by the Appalachian Axe Company.

“They wanted to come and said they set up a booth where people can throw axes,” she said. “This kind of attraction is fun because this is something people did years ago.”

The Cogar Family from Webster Springs will also be at the Maple Syrup Festival; they do a wood chopping exhibition each year, drawing a huge following.

“The entertainment at the Old Opry House is a favorite – it is all free entertainment and people love to sit down after looking at all of the crafts and enjoy listening to the music,” Morgan said. “There are some people that have a tie to Pickens and come in to sing.”

Throughout the years, people wait in long lines to enjoy delicious amber maple syrup drizzled over the pancakes and buckwheat cakes.

“This is a big draw for folks,” Morgan said. “Also, this year, our vendor spots are full so there will be many things for folks to see and enjoy.”

In the spirit of celebrating the past and looking forward to the future, Morgan reflected on the first-ever Pickens Maple Syrup Festival: she said the group really didn’t know how many people to plan for during their first festival.

“We started in 1985, and the first year was crazy,” Morgan said. “We decided to have the original Maple Syrup Festival for two days and our highest hope was to feed pancakes, buckwheat cakes and maple syrup to 500 people throughout the weekend. We also had a ham and bean dinner that night. The weather was pretty that first weekend and near the end of the day on Saturday, we had already served more than 500 people.”

Morgan said they ran out of everything and had to send people to Wendling’s in Buckhannon to get more supplies.

“It was stressful and totally crazy,” Morgan said. “We had no idea that many people would come.”

At last year’s Maple Syrup Festival, Morgan said they served nearly 2,000 pancake meals.

This year, the lineup of events includes:

Saturday, March 16, 2019
9 a.m. to 2 p.m. – Pancake feed at the American Legion Hall
9 a.m. to 4 p.m. – Pancake feed at Pickens School
9 a.m. to 5 p.m. – Festival information – ground level Fire Department
9 a.m. to 5 p.m. – Children’s games at the playground
9 a.m. to 5 p.m. – Crafters at the Depot, Craft Store, Fire House, Quilt House
9 a.m. to 5 p.m. – Robert-Cunningham Museum open
9 a.m. to 5 p.m. – Quilt Show at the Quilt House
9 a.m. to 5 p.m. – Community archives at the Craft Store
9 a.m. to 5 p.m. – West Virginia Wineries
9 a.m. to 5 p.m. – Hot dog sale at the Fire Hall and various food vendors
11 a.m. to ? – West Virginia music at the Opera House
1 p.m. – Wood chopping at the Legion Hall
11 a.m. to noon – Meet the Paw Patrol character
2 to 3 p.m. – Meet the Paw Patrol character
4:30 to 5 p.m. – Meet the Scooby Doo character
4:30 to 6:30 p.m. – Ham and bean dinner at the Legion Hall

Sunday, March 17, 2019
9 a.m. to 2 p.m. – Pancake feed at American Legion Hall
9 a.m. to 4 p.m. – Crafters at the Depot, Craft Store, festival information at the Fire Department, children’s games at the playground, Robert-Cunningham Museum open, Quilt Show at the Quilt House, Children’s Art Show at the Depot, Community Archives at the Craft Store, West Virginia Wineries, hot dog sale and food venders.
11 a.m. – Baptist Church Services
11:30 a.m. – West Virginia music at the Opera House
Noon to 1 p.m. – Meet the Troll character
2 to 3 p.m. – Meet the Paw Patrol character

Morgan said the annual festival has become famous in West Virginia and surrounding states.

“The attendance increases every year, no matter if we have rain, snow or sunshine,” she said. “The weather in Pickens is very unpredictable in March, but that has not affected the festival in past years.

Morgan said the residents of Pickens are proud of the fact that even though the community is small, everyone pulls together, along with family and friends to sponsor such a grand event that is enjoyed by so many.

Additional information about the Maple Syrup Festival is available on Facebook or by calling Morgan at 304-439-0038 or Jerry Hull at 304-924-5509.

Directions to Pickens for the Maple Syrup Festival:
From Buckhannon – Follow Route 20 South 9 miles to the W.Va. Wildlife Center. Turn left on Alexander Helvetia Road, CR11, proceed 20 miles to Helvetia, turn right on Pickens Road (45), proceed 5 miles to Pickens.

From Elkins – Follow Route 219/250 South 16 miles to Mill Creek, turn right on Adolph Road CR 46, proceed 6 miles to Adolph. Turn right across the bridge, proceed 14 miles to Helvetia. At the Hutte Restaurant, turn left on Pickens Road CR45, proceed 5 miles to Pickens.