Honey remains the focus of annual festival

PARKERSBURG -Many people came out to the 34th annual West Virginia State Honey Festival at City Park for one reason.

“The honey,” said Bill Fittro of Parkersburg.

“…and more honey,” his wife, JoAnn, added with a laugh.

The couple, like so many people who came out to the weekend festival, was interested in West Virginia-produced honey.

“It is better than what you get in the stores,” JoAnn said. “We like West Virginia bees.”

People don’t know where most of the honey in grocery stores comes from, Bill said.

“You can really find many of these kinds of honey in the store,” he said of the many types that were available at the festival over the weekend.

Although some were seeing this year’s festival as being in a transitional state with the change in the organizations putting it on, organizers were happy with the turnout over the weekend.

“Things have been going great,” said Vickie Marshall, Executive Director of the Wood County Recreation Commission. “We have had a really good turnout.”

The WCRC took over the festival earlier this year after the original organizing group decided not to do it anymore and voted to disband. The recreation commission is using the festival as a fundraiser for local recreation programs, just as it does with the annual Harvest Moon Arts and Crafts Festival later this fall.

Marshall said many people around the community had heard the festival had been canceled which is why they might have seen some decline in numbers this weekend.

However, a moist season has also contributed to less honey production this year.

“A lot of the honey vendors did not have honey available as they have had too rainy of a season,” Marshall said.

However, the festival still had more than 30 vendors selling a variety of arts and crafts items on Saturday and Sunday.

“With us taking it over so late in the year, we only had a couple of months to plan for this,” Marshall said. “This turned out great for no more than the time we had to plan it and put it on.”

The honey has remained the focus for many people.

“The honey has been a highlight,” Marshall said. “I hope the people who came this weekend got some honey and I hope they enjoyed the entertainment.

“I hope they plan on coming back next year as there is a lot in store for next year. I have been in touch with several of the beekeepers who were not here this year and they want back in next year. They want to set up and go back to the educational aspects of the program.”