When the leaves are a kaleidoscope of colors and the air is crisp, you’ll notice a certain aroma in the town of Marlinton – it’s just down home cooking with an interesting theme – road-kill.
The COVID-19 pandemic canceled the RoadKill Cook-off and Autumn Harvest Festival for the past two years, but they are back and better than ever.
Pocahontas County Chamber of Commerce representative Mystik Mil-ler said the event is back in full swing and there is a lot of fun to be had.
“The streets should be lined with vendors, and I’m expecting a full field of cooks,” she said. “The gazebo park will have the cooks, and we’re going to have music all day at Discovery Junction. All of the vendors will be lined up in between, so hopefully the flow of traffic will go back and forth between those two points.”
The vendor list includes familiar favorites such as local crafters and non-profit organizations, as well as some new faces with new products.
“We have a guy coming who does hunting scents,” Miller said. “We have two cannabis – CBD – vendors, so that’s really cool. This is also an opportunity for non-profits to come and spread information and/or do little fundraisers.”
While the streets will be lined with vendors and the gazebo park will be full of cooks competing in the RoadKill Cook-off, the Discovery Junction stage will feature several musicians throughout the day, including Jace Turley, Seldom Free, the Black Mountain Bluegrass Boys and The Bing Brothers featuring Jake Krack.
“Joanna Burt-Kinderman helped me do the music lineup, and we borrowed heavily from Pioneer Days because people were so good,” Miller said.
On Friday, September 23 – the night before the big event – there will be the Redneck Square Dance at the Pocahontas County Opera House featuring music by Mud Hole Control. The first hour will be a lesson in square dancing, followed by a foot stompin’, heel clickin’ good time.
Then on Saturday, September 24, the events kick off with the 5K run/walk Possum Trot, sponsored by High Rocks. Registration is from 8 to 9 a.m. at the Greenbrier River Trail near the Marlinton Depot and the race starts at 9 a.m.
From there, the cooks will light their burners and mix their concoctions to please the judges and the crowd. The rules are the same as always – a dish that features meat from a critter that could potentially be roadkill, such as deer, bear, groundhog, rabbit, etc. The cooks are asked to make enough to serve three judges and too many visitors to count. Those interested in sampling the cuisine and voting for the People’s Choice award must purchase a $10 armband from the Chamber of Commerce at the event.
This year’s cook-off and festival is special for Miller because it will be her first time attending the unique event. Although she’s never experienced it for herself, she said the planning committee has filled her in and helped to keep the event on its feet.
“We have a great planning committee,” she said. “I have that historical knowledge and people who know what has gone on in previous years. I have been grateful to have the planning committee that has all this previous experience because I have never attended one before. It’s a little bit shocking that I am planning and will be attending my first one, but I think it will be a complement of my new insights and the ways we used to do things.”
Some of the changes made for this year include use of the Discovery Junction and extended entertainment. Also because the cooks have been moved back to the gazebo park, First Avenue will not be closed to traffic.
“I was inspired by Pioneer Days how they had music going late into the evening, so we actually extended the music that we’re doing for RoadKill,” Miller said. “We put in a whole other slot in that evening. This way, too, the RoadKill cooks can wrap up and come and enjoy music, and the two activities aren’t detracting from each other.”
Miller wants to remind everyone attending the RoadKill Cook-off and Autumn Harvest Festival that the Cranberry Shindig at the Cranberry Mountain Nature Center will be the next day, Sunday, September 25, which is another reason to stick around and enjoy the fun filled weekend. The Shindig features local crafters, live music by The Bing Brothers featuring Jake Krack and performances by the Old Dominion Cloggers.