Strawberry Flashback: The 80th annual West Virginia Festival will be all about the ’80s

BUCKHANNON – The 80th annual West Virginia Strawberry Festival will bring the most rad decade back to Buckhannon this May.

The 2022 Strawberry Festival is scheduled to return May 14-22, 2022.

Strawberry Festival Association Board president Shane Jenkins said the theme of the 2022 Strawberry Festival is “Strawberry Flashback,” which will be ’80s-themed, to celebrate the festival’s 80th celebration.

“I know we incorporated it into our pageant with some of the outfits and all the publicity we’ve done so far has had an ’80s theme,” Jenkins said. “We’re designing a program book right now, and our rack cards and everything we normally make are going stay with that theme and people seem really excited.”

This will be the first time the Strawberry Festival was themed to a specific decade. 

“It’s usually a really vague idea, which is hard to actually put into a picture or to actually visualize,” Jenkins said. “This year is just perfect. When we started thinking about the idea, we found this was something we could really take and run with it.”

The 2021 celebration was altered to accommodate COVID-19 restrictions and protocols, but popular attractions such as the carnival will make a return this year.

“I think through COVID, just like most other places, we realized that change is not always a bad thing and we do have some minor changes coming this year,” Jenkins said. “We’re moving everything down towards Jawbone Park because that space has been created for the festival and the city has helped us out with that, to make sure we have everything we need down there.”

The carnival will be headquartered in the Madison Street lot where the former Chase Bank drive-thru was located.

“The carnival is getting pushed back into the lot where the Chase drive-thru was and most of our entertainment and everything is going to be at Jawbone,” Jenkins said.

Main Street will still be utilized for the car show and entertainment on Friday night, but most of the festivities will take place in Jawbone Park.

“COVID presented a lot of challenges for people, and it’s been a very negative thing, of course, but we were able to make some positive out of it,” Jenkins said. “I think the changes that we made will be great for the festival and the community.”

The finalized schedule has not been completed, but some traditional events have already been scheduled. The horse-and-carriage parade will take place Saturday, May 14, the carnival and food court will kick off Wednesday, May 18, the Junior Royalty Parade will take place Thursday, May 19, and the Firemen’s Parade will take place Friday, May 20. Finally, the Antique Car and Grand Feature parades will both take place Saturday, May 21.

“Most of the other things will be relatively similar,” Jenkins said. “The Jawbone Park area is going to look a little different than usual, and where we would normally close Main Street on Wednesday night for our car show and then our car parade would normally be before the grand feature parade on Saturday, we’re scheduling our car parade to follow the grand feature parade on Saturday afternoon.”

“Then, those cars that were in the parade are going to go ahead and park, so our car show will basically be all evening Saturday,” Jenkins said.

The Strawberry Festival will also live stream the grand feature parade for the first time in 2022.

“We would normally broadcast our Grand Feature Parade on Channel Five locally, but we are going to make that streamable now,” Jenkins said. “Jesterline is helping us out; they’ve agreed to sponsor, and they’ve been really great to us so far. They’ve agreed to help us out to get a professional-level stream set up for us and I think it’s going to be great.”

More information about the Strawberry Festival can be found on their website at https://wvstrawberryfestival.com.

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