At the Yew Mountain Center grand opening and Wildflower Weekend, local artists Mary Moore, left, and Margaret Baker, gave lessons in wildflower watercolor painting to eager artists of all ages.

Suzanne Stewart
Staff Writer

The wildflowers were in bloom and the ramps were ready just in time for the grand opening – Wildflower Weekend and Ramp Romp 5K at Yew Mountain Center in Lobelia last weekend.

The center is a gateway to relaxation and revitalization with a focus on education and promotion of the local economy, culture and ecological stewardship.

For the celebration, the center hosted fun and unique activities which showcased the flora and fauna surrounding the center, as well as the talents of the people of the community.

Center director Erica Marks said the weekend was designed to kick off the center’s first season of activities.

“We have guided wildflower walks and people can also take themselves on hikes,” Marks said. “We have canoeing, catch and release fishing for children. This morning we started with the Ramp Romp and that was a 5K that went through the forest. Someone said that we could boast it’s the toughest 5K in the east. It’s beautiful out there and some people said it took them longer because they didn’t want to step on the wildflowers.”

The day also included vendors with their handmade jewelry, homemade bug repellent, and wildflowers, a rummage sale and art stations including wildflower watercolors and uniquely dyed Easter eggs. Eggs were dyed with natural elements including blueberries, spinach, beets and tumeric, and were decorated using pieces of silk ties, the patterns of which transferred to the eggs in the dyeing process.

Visitors were treated to colorful Easter eggs decorated and dyed using silk ties and natural elements including blueberries and spinach. S. Stewart photos

Visitors were treated to a locally fueled lunch of local beef meatballs and stir-fry featuring locally harvested ramps.

The event culminated with a poetry workshop and reading.

With the gorgeous weather, the weekend turned out well, despite competing with Easter travels and activities.

“It’s tricky to decide to have it on Easter weekend, but it also just worked with the timing of spring,” Marks said. “This is when the wildflowers are at their best.”

Marks added that this is just the beginning of fun activities that will take place at the center. She has a full schedule for spring and summer of programs.

“There’s some groups that are coming in at the end of May, and we contracted a bunch of presenters for our first seasons of programs,” she said. “I’m really excited about our lineup of programs. We have a birding weekend where people can come and stay. It’s right at the beginning of June so it’s a perfect time to hear the breeding birds of West Virginia.

“We hope to just learn a lot from the people who come here,” she continued. “I’m excited.”

Upcoming events:

April 21 – Wild Edibles Festival in partnership with Watoga State Park and Pocahontas County Nature Club. 10 a.m. – forage for a salad; noon – lunch.

May 27 – Grace Paley Writers Group. 5:30 p.m. – community potluck; 6:30 p.m. – open mic readings, voices of visiting young women writers and local writers.

June 2-4 – Breeding Birds of the West Virginia Mountains with Casey Rucker.

July 7-9 – Wild Pharmacy workshop with renowned herbalist Paul Strauss.

July 21-22 – Mushroom Foray in partnership with Watoga State Park and the Pocahontas Nature Club. Wild mushroom dinner and music on Saturday night.

For more information on Yew Mountain Center and upcoming events, visit http://www.yewmountain.org